Kanjli wetland, once the pride of the city, has turned into a classic example of neglect. The place where earlier families used to go for picnic is nowadays used largely by drug users and other anti-social elements, who find this isolated and abandoned place ideal for their activities.
The wetland is a part of the Kali Bein, a holy rivulet associated with Guru Nanak Dev, and is spread over 100 hectare.
While the administration had chalked out several plans for its maintenance and upgrade, but due to lack of will, nothing has been implemented so far. While the then deputy commissioner JM Balamurugan in 2008 had proposed the construction of a 10-km passage along the banks of Kali Bein from Subhanpur to Kanjli, the proposal remained only on paper.
Meanwhile, the condition of this wetland is deteriorating by the day.
While several campaigns were launched in the past few years by environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal to clean hyacinth weed from the rivulet, lack of administrative control has allowed hyacinth to accumulate and disturb the flow of water. Various schools and colleges also bring NSS units to the spot for cleaning out weed, but only during Wetland Day celebrations.
Though boating was a great tourist attraction in the wetland area in the past, these days, the boats can be seen wasting away in the stores.
An HT team visited the place and saw that the place was turning into a 'safe haven' for drug users.
“As nobody visits this place, we are safe from both our parents and police. We come here to spend time whenever we can,” said Happy Sahota, student, who was there with his friends.
A lot of our childhood was spent here. The government has failed to maintain our old picnic spot, which is now in a pathetic condition. The 'picnic spot' has been erased from the memories of the locals.
Surinder Singh, LIC employee
Nobody here seems bothered about taking care of the wetlands. Grants are allocated and spent, but after some time, it goes back to square one. As the district administration had failed to pay them for the past three years, the four caretakers are now working on daily wagers and we have to meet their emergency needs.
Sapna Roy, medical technologist
People are ready to undertake long-term maintenance if the district administration allows. There is s lack of planning on behalf of the administration. The government should attract vendors by offering schemes to develop the wetland aesthetically.
Surjit Singh, laboratory owner
Lack of administrative willpower is causing loss to this wetland. The administration should take strong steps to stop discharge of sewage by locals in the rivulet, which has been causing water pollution and is hazardous for fish and other aquatic animals.
Kuldeep Sharma, businessman
To restore the wetland, we had cleared weeds a few months ago, which had helped revive aquatic life. We are engaging more labour from MGNREGA to clear the weeds again. For the development of the picnic spot, we have planned a `5-lakh project with the help of tourism department. Hopefully, by December 2013, we will be able to restore the glory of the wetland.
Deputy commissioner Daljit Singh Mangat