110 persons booked for encroaching on Ghaziabad water bodies
Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation registered 110 different FIRs at Sahibabad police station for encroachment on ponds and other water bodies. The National Green Tribunal has sought report on the revival of water bodies and removal of encroachments from there.cities Updated: May 30, 2017 22:08 IST
In a major move against encroachers, the Ghaziabad municipal corporation has lodged an FIR against 110 persons who encroached upon ponds and other water bodies and have served notices to another 100 asking them to remove encroachments.
This is a first major enforcement against encroachers in the recent past. Activist and Ghaziabad resident Sushil Raghav, who moved National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a bid to free up and revive water bodies, said the tribunal has sought compliance reports and the personal appearance of UP officials in the matter.
“The FIR is lodged at Sahibabad police station against 110 persons who have encroached on ponds. Notices have also been served. This drive against encroachment will continue and we will ensure that all ponds are revived and freed from encroachments,” said AK Gupt, joint municipal commissioner.
He said the corporation has 140 ponds under its jurisdiction. Of these, 62 are fully encroached upon and 23 have been partially encroached on even by government agencies, including the corporation. Nearly 40 are free of encroachments.
The Ghaziabad district administration has also ordered the revival of 40 ponds falling under the corporation’s jurisdiction. District magistrate Ministhy S has directed all departments to start work on reviving water bodies.
“The district magistrate has ordered the revival of 20 of the 40 ponds that are free of encroachments. No expertise is needed to dig ponds to a depth of 2.5 metres. For deeper ponds, we will have to take the help of the irrigation department,” said RB Singh, district information officer.
The DM also suggested that the areas around the ponds be beautified with plants, trees and benches for visitors. She said the local residents should be made responsible for the upkeep of ponds and they will ensure that encroachers don’t return.
However, the FIRs and notices came only after Raghav moved the NGT. On May 11, during the hearing of the execution application filed by Raghav, the tribunal had directed the UP principal secretary to be present on the next date of hearing (May 25).
“Respondent must ensure that the principal secretary, Urban Development, if he is the one responsible for compliance of direction, on behalf of the State of UP, shall be present on the next date of hearing (sic),” the tribunal, had said.
Raghav said the efforts for revival of ponds were also undertaken previously but they lacked the sting.
“The officials have time and again held meetings and rolled out directions for revival of water bodies. However, nothing substantial has happened. Since there is a petition to which they have to reply and the presence of state officials is sought, the authorities have been prodded to act,” Raghav said.
“It is high time that officials act tough on encroachers. The groundwater level in the district is falling and encroachments are rampant. We will request the tribunal to seek a compliance report about the action taken against encroachers and also the status of removal of encroachments,” he said.
According to Ghaziabad municipal corporation officials, the current average water level in the city is estimated at around 140 feet (nearly 42.672 metres) and levels are going down by five feet (nearly 1.524 metres) annually.