The Uttarakhand high court’s order asking the state government to remove structures from the riverbeds in 60 days' time has left authorities in tizzy.
The high court came down heavily on government while hearing public interest litigation (PIL). The PIL filed in 2008 by one Beena Bahuguna of Dehradun stated that the revenue department had allotted the riverbed for dwelling purposes in Dehradun.
It is learnt that several hotels, parking lots and similar structures erected close to the riverbed in Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag district were washed away in the recent flashfloods that killed thousands.
In its order dated 4th July, the two member bench comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and justice Servesh Kumar Gupta stated "The state government can not even, by law, assume upon itself the power to convert the land of a river into dwelling place of people. It must be kept in mind that no river belongs to a particular tate. The same belongs to the whole country."
In fact, over the years, right from Uttarkashi, Rishikesh, Haridwar till Dehradun, many individuals and organisations, including the government, have erected buildings at the riverbeds.
"All allotments, given on the river to all allottees, must be cancelled within seven days from today (July 4). The allottees shall be given sixty days’ time to remove the constructions that they have made and to restore the river to its original. In default, the state government shall remove all those constructions and restore the river to its original condition" the HC further said in its order.
The government seems to be playing safe. The state revenue and disaster mitigation and management minister told HT that the government is examining the order.
"The government's legal cell is going through the order. We will be able to comment once we examine the order" said Yashpal Arya, revenue minister.
The construction works at the riverbeds have mushroomed manifold particularly in last one decade. For instance the Vidhan Sabha building in Dehradun is located at riverbed of Rispana River, that once happens to be the lifeline of capital and now minimised to a drain.