Friday, April 19, 2013

Encroachment of ponds continues despite SC order

Faiz Rahman Siddiqui, TNN|Apr 18, 2013, 04.41 AM IST

KANPUR: The Supreme Court order directing authorities to check encroachment on water bodies in their jurisdiction seems to have had little effect on the administrative machinery of Kanpur Dehat district which is turning a blind eye to indiscriminate encroachment and filling up of ponds.

Village ponds commonly known as 'talaab' which happen to be an integral part of rural life and play an important role in maintaining rural ecology have been disappearing fast throughout Kanpur Dehat district. In most cases, these ponds have either been encroached upon or being used as dumping site or bathing site for domestic animals. A total of 900 village ponds spread on 661.87 hectares of land, have been encroached upon by influential locals and villagers or are being used as a dumping site. According to data provided by the district's revenue department, in 1950, nearly 7,927 ponds used to exist on 3996.64 acres of land across 10 blocks and- tehsils including Akbarpur, Sikandara, Rajpur, Malasa, Rasoolabad, Sarwan Kheda, Maitha, Jhinjhak, Sandalpur, Bhognipur and Amraudha of the district. Now, only 7,037 ponds exist on 3334.77 acres of land across the district.

Only last year, the state revenue department following the High Court's directives had also passed an order for surveying various districts to assess the magnitude of encroachment over water bodies in the state, but none of the officials in the district's revenue department were aware of any such orders.

According to Jal Sansthan, vanishing ponds and other water bodies have made a direct impact on the groundwater level in the district, and it has depleted majorly in the past few years. " There are few villages and localities where groundwater level has receded up to one metre while in several other villages, particularly in Rajpur block, the water level depleted by around one and a half metres to two metres,' a source said. 

"Womenfolk here are being forced to walk for miles to fetch potable water," rues Deepak Mishra, a Rajpur local, adding that in a few villages, people literally fight for water.

Not only this, many such ponds in the district's Kandhi area and Rajpur block, which were once considered to be a favourite destination of local and migratory birds, are gradually losing their charm. "Earlier, these village ponds with water-bodies used to attract a huge number of migratory as well as local birds and were being acknowledged as favourite hotspots and breeding ground of avian species. But no more, as many of these water bodies have either been encroached upon by land sharks or are being used as a garbage dumping site and bathing site of domestice animals or drying up due to poor management," says NK Katiyar, a local villager.

Meanwhile, SDM Sameer Verma, said, "The ponds woukd soon get a facelift and those found to be involved in land grabbing would be severely dealt with. Earlier also on several occassions, we had launched a drive to get the water-bodies freed from land grabbers and villagers, who were booked and penalised for violation norms."

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