Thursday, February 7, 2013

Officials instructed to remove encroachments from ponds, kunds

TNN Jan 9, 2013, 01.33PM IST

VARANASI: Divisional commissioner, Chanchal Kumar Tiwari strictly instructed the officials for the removal of encroachments from ponds and kunds and other public places.

During the divisional review meeting on Monday, the commissioner said there should be no illegal encroachment on water bodies and public places and asked the officials to remove the identified encroachments on priority. He instructed the district magistrates to conduct drives for this purpose and take stern action against the illegal encroachers. He also directed them to ensure video and still photography before and after the removal of encroachments. He added that the physical verification of the removed encroachments should not be done by the officials below the ranks of SDM and CO.
Though the commissioner expressed his concern over the illegal encroachments on water bodies and asked for removal, it is a known fact that in Varanasi, the ponds and historical kunds are disappearing or facing the threat of land sharks. Even the city development plan prepared under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) reveals that the upcoming developments in the north and south of the city close to river Varuna and Asi are insensitive to the catchment area of the water bodies. The city also has several shallow ponds/ Kunds, some of which are of religious significance. However, most of these ponds are in a state of poor maintenance and face the threat of drying up or reclamation due to upcoming settlements in the periphery.

The Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC) conducted a survey in 2007 to check the status of ponds in the city. The survey revealed that there were 79 ponds and kunds in the records of VMC out of which 25 had been filled for some other use. However, another lot of 39 ponds are in other revenue records but missing from the records of VMC. Not only land sharks but the government departments were also responsible for the disappearance of water bodies. Even the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) itself filled a pond in Kazzakpura to develop a residential colony, railway tracks were laid after filling the ponds in Ashapur and Baraipur. The Matakund pond in Lallapura was filled to construct a police out post. The water bodies in areas like Khajuri, Lalpur Anaula, Shivpur, Jaitpura and Lahartara met the same fate.

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