The escalating prices of land in villages and population explosion has made village ponds prone to encroachments. People living around ponds, which once were the source of drinking water for cattle, continue to fill up water bodies with household waste or cattle dung and finally succeed in encroaching the land.
All this is taking places right under the nose of the village panchayats and vested interests. There is hardly anybody in panchayats, including sarpanches, who tries to stop encroachments as the matter becomes a political issue of votes.
However, sarpanch of Sibian village, Balvir Singh appears to be doing his bit. He claimed to have passed two resolutions in the panchayat last year to get the demarcation of the land of ponds in the village done to save these from being encroached, but to no avail. The revenue department officials have been allegedly sitting on his applications.
"I got two resolutions passed to get all ponds in our village demarcated and handed application to Faridkot deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat, who marked it to revenue officials twice. The kanungo concerned along with patwari visited the village, but did not make any demarcation for about 10 months," Balvir Singh claimed.
"There are four ponds in the village, which make constitute 12 acres of land. Three have been encroached about 25% and one, which is inside the village, has been encroached nearly 50%. I wanted the encroachers to stop from expanding their illegal activity and wanted to erect boundaries around ponds. But I have failed to get the demarcation done so far," said the sarpanch, a retired armyman.
Stating that he has no affiliation with the ruling alliance, Balvir Singh claimed to have received small grants for his big village as compared to other villages, which are smaller in size. "There is also no sewerage system in the village. All the waste water is drained into ponds. We want motor pumps to take out water for agriculture use. When it rains, ponds fill up and water from one pond even overflows onto the streets," Balvir Singh said.
"We want to take waste water out of the village and there are only two options before us. One, to pump out water for irrigation purpose, which will empty ponds and the other is to lay pipes to the nearby drain, which runs about 5 km from the village. The government should provide us grant for this purpose," says Balvir Singh.
Sibian, about 10 km from Kotkapura, is a big village under the Jaitu (reserved) constituency and has about 3,200 voters, according to the sarpanch.
Stating that he would get the demarcation of ponds done, Faridkot deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said: "The unwarranted delay by the revenue officials has not been brought to my notice. I will look into the matter. The grant for boundary walls would also be provided when the funds for the purpose reach. The problem of the village will be solved."