Thursday, June 21, 2018

Faridkot to Revive 103 Ponds to Avoid the Fury of Floods

Balwant Garg | The Tribune | 19 June 2018

Faridkot: Days before the onset of monsoon, the district administration and the panchayat department has embarked on a time-tested formula to avoid the fury of floods. Adding another chapter to the Tandarust Punjab Mission, the district administration has started cleaning and digging up 103 ponds in the district. Sixty of these have already been revived with cleaning and deepening.

In the past, as almost all villages have suffered damage to homes, roads, and crops due to floods during the monsoon time, the village ponds, commonly known as “chhaper” or ‘tobas’, are most talked about in rural areas and administrative circles to reduce the risk of floods.

As ponds used to help in controlling flood water and even save villages from drought, so we have started cleaning and deepening these ponds so that these help in retaining the more quantity of rainwater, further helping in recharging the ground water sources, said Rajeev Prashar, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot.

He said 103 ponds had been identified in Faridkot district and these included 32 ponds in Faridkot block, 39 in Kotkapura and 32 in Jaito block. We were taking the help of village panchayats and youths in this project, said the DC.

The ponds, which used to save the village in the past from drought and floods and were highly useful for natural recharging of underground, were now victims of greedy people and land grabbers as in most of the villages these ponds were either silted or filled up and encroached upon, said Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, a crusader against rivers’ pollution. 

Earlier these ponds were recharging the ground water but now the sewerage dumped in these ponds is further polluting the groundwater in the surrounding areas, said Umendra Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) which conducted some studies about fast vanishing ponds in the rural area in Punjab.

Taking a serious view of the encroachment of common land in village which include ponds, on January 28, 2011, the Supreme Court (SC) had directed all state governments to prepare schemes for the eviction of those occupying village commons and restore them to the community. The Apex Court had asked the states to submit compliance reports by in the next four month. But this direction of the SC failed to deter the encroachment of ponds and village common land.

Even the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology is of the opinion that village ponds need to be deepened and made bigger as these can play a very important role in conserving the natural ecosystem, said Umendra Dutt. Some time back the Council had conducted a study to determine the quality of water stored in village ponds and to develop a strategy for its optimum utilization, he said. 

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