Pakhowal block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) has finally initiated an enquiry into the allegations as per an RTI revelation that the farmers of a few panchayats of Ludhiana district have 'illegally' converted the drains into agriculture land for personal use.
The action by the BDPO is followed by a section of media reports that a large number of drains, which had been constructed in the '60s to control waterlogging and floods, have been encroached upon by the farmers at Latala, Chappar and Dhulkot villagers.
BDPO Pakhowal, Harkamaljeet Singh said, “We have asked the Panchayats to collect revenue record of all chunks of the land that are being used for agriculture as per the allegations. Once, the Panchayats come on record, we will be able to prove the allegations and take action, if required.”
The RTI information received by the activist Kuldeep Khaira revealed that total land measures 28 acre, 3 kanal and 3 marla. Out of which 99 kanal, 17 marla of Latala village; 55 kanal, 5 marla of Chappar village and 72 canal, 1 marla of Dhoolkot village is under illegal possession of some politically influential people of these villages.
The RTI activist along with the copy of report prepared by the revenue department, farad of the encroached land, complained to the DDPO in the month of August to take action against the encroachers.
Following the complaint, the DDPO has instructed the BDPO Pakhowal to take necessary action.
The encroachments by the farmers have resulted in the closure of drains, which used to carry away rainwater and saved ponds from being overflowing.
As per sources, in many instances, the encroachers were the office-bearers of the village panchayats as well and the local leaders having allegiance with the ruling SAD.
Sources said at least 30 people of Chhapar village had been cultivating crops on a drain measuring 55 kanal and 5 marla and were earning huge profit as this land of the drain was very fertile, whereas 28 farmers of Dhoolkot village were found to have encroached land of the same drain measuring over 72 marlas.
About 100 kanal meant for a drain in the jurisdiction of Latala village is being cultivated by 22 families of the same village.
Even as a number of times efforts have been made by the department to vacate the land when it came into notice after several enquiries by the revenue department that the land belonged to the drainage department, but no action had been initiated.