Life in the ‘town of flies’ on the periphery of Chandigarh | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Life in the ‘town of flies’ on the periphery of Chandigarh

punjab Updated: Mar 20, 2017 22:00 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
town of flies

Flies buzzing around eatables are a common sight in Barwala in Panchkula. (Sant Arora/ Hindustan Times)

Ask anyone about the biggest problem of Barwala, and there will be just one reply: flies. A byproduct of the 122 poultry farms in Barwala and Raipur Rani, these flies make everyday life a nightmare for the residents. Meanwhile, owners of the poultry farms, which breed these flies, live in cities like Panchkula but leave dirt and disease behind for residents to fight with.

It seems there is no solution to the problem. The local administration, Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) and residents blame the flies on the filthy conditions inside poultry farms and rampant violation of regulatory measures prescribed by the pollution control board. Close to 30 FIRs have been registered against the poultry farms but in vain.

“In summers things come to such a pass that you can’t even have a cup of tea outside. In a minute, 4-5 flies will fall into your cup,” groused Ajay Kumar, a resident of Khatauli village, which is home to five poultry farms.

Some time ago, a wedding party went away without having food. “These flies stick to your food. You have to pick them up with your hand before you can have something. Most of the people have mesh doors to keep the flies out,” says Gurnam Singh Saini, a resident of Bhagwanpur village.

Some residents complained that no one wants to get their daughters married in this area knowing that the flies make life here.

Shivalik Vikas Manch president Vijay Bansal approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court against these poultry farms in 2011. The high court had then directed the environment department to frame laws on poultry farms. Then in 2013, the Haryana government framed rules. As per the regulations, a new poultry farm can not be set up within 500 metres of a residential zone, 200 metres from a major watercourse and 1,000 metres from any major drinking water reservoir on the catchment side. The distance between two poultry farms cannot be less than 500 metres.

Under the new directions, no open burning or indiscriminate dumping of any dead birds/feather/offal’s, unused material like litter/empty gunnies/containers shall be done within or outside the farm premises. For minimising the odour, the poultry farms have to protect manure from unwanted pests, pesticides and to design, construct, operate and maintain waste storage facilities to contain all manure, litter and washings. A consent is also needed from the pollution control board to operate farms with over 1 lakh birds.

But little has changed on the ground. People wait for winters when things improve a little. Park your car here, and it will be covered by a blanket of flies within minutes.

Algae-laden pond in Barwala near tehsil office in Panchkula reflects the awful sanitation facilities that residents are putting up with. (Sant Arora Hindustan Times)

Sanitation story

Cleanliness seems to be of least concern to the panchayats and Municipal Corporation (MC) here. Enter Ramgarh to go to Barwala, and you will see heavy construction for the four-laining of National Highway-73. Shops and houses have been demolished to widen the road but the debris continues to lie on the roadside.

The worst spot in the area is near the tehsil office in Barwala. There is a Government Girls Senior Secondary School here which usually produces toppers of the district. In front of it are two ponds choked with algae. Not just that, the panchayat has also set up a dumping ground nearby. Usually, polythene carry bags fly and fall in these ponds.

Lack of an outlet for waste water is a big problem here, says Labh Singh, who runs a departmental store in Barwala.

As the area gets urbanised, low-lying parts in colonies, which were earlier fields, often get waterlogged.

The roads connecting villages are in a poor shape and at some places it’s difficult to make out whether there is a road under the wheels. Garbage dumps dot the area. Enter the Rihod village, and you will be greeted by small dumps of waste. There is no concept of dustbins in these villages. There are mounds of cow dung on the road from Khatauli to Raipur Rani.

Garbage heaps dot the town (Sant Arora/ Hindustan Times)

Accident-prone points

As of now, the National Highway-73 which runs from Ramgarh to Barwala is two laned. It will be converted into four lanes, but until then driving on this stretch is a risky exercise for two-wheeler riders who often fall victims of negligent truck drivers. A number of people have lost their life on this highway.

The Barwala chowk is another accident-prone points. It witnesses traffic from Panchkula, Derabassi and Yamunanagar and illegal parking of vehicles only compounds the chaos. The Bhanu T-point is another spot which sees a heavy volume of traffic on its two lanes. Other locations are Naggal Chowk, and the stretch from Manakya to Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL).

TBRL halts construction in the area

Ramgarh is home to TBRL, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It conducts basic and applied research in the fields of high explosives processing, detonics, defeat of armour and performance of warheads and other armament systems. No construction is allowed within a notified area of 1,000 yards (914 m) of TBRL under Works of Defence Act, 1903, unless allowed by the Ministry of Defence through a No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The area was notified on July 25, 1994. The ban on construction creates an open space between Panchkula city and Kot Behla Urban Complex, the area around Ramgarh.

Gian Chand Gupta, MLA Panchkula

Official’s take

“We recently held a meeting with the deputy commissioner on the issue of flies. This summer, we will put more pressure on poultry farms for following the restrictions. In the past, FIRs have also been registered against these farms. Putting pressure on poultry farms is the only solution,” says MLA Panchkula Gian Chand Gupta.

What people say

Labh Singh, owner of a departmental store in Barwala said that it is unbearable to live near the tehsil office of Barwala. The dirty ponds and collection of cow dung near the road presents a poor picture, he says. It is visible to all but the panchayat doesn’t do anything, he adds.

“There are 10 poultry farms near Bhagwanpur village. We have submitted a complaint to the DC about stray dogs bringing dead birds from these hatcheries and eating them in our fields. Our crops are getting damaged, says Gurnam Singh Saini, resident of Bhagwanpur village