Illegal structures in Sukhna Lake’s catchment area face demolition
Working to remove encroachments in Sukhna Lake’s catchment area, the UT land acquisition officer (LAO) has issued notices to owners of illegal structures in Khuda Ali Sher village.
The notices have been issued to around 20 houses, which have been constructed on agriculture land, outside the village lal dora. “The LAO has asked the house owners to explain their position regarding the unauthorised constructions raised in violation of the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act. This will be followed by demolition,” said a senior UT official privy to the development.
“Last year in April, the enforcement wing of UT estate office had razed around 20 illegal structures in Khuda Ali Sher. But, people have reconstructed the houses and other structures. Most of these are permanent houses,” said the official.
CONSTRUCTION BANNED IN 2012
Significantly, in 2012, the Punjab and Haryana high court had banned construction in the Sukhna catchment area falling in Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula. Villages like Kaimbwala, Khuda Ali Sher, Kansal and Saketri are part of the area.
The HC had directed the respective administrations to maintain the catchment area, as it was vital for restoring the lake to its former glory. It had ordered that no housing colony or building could come up in the catchment area, either on forest or agricultural land.
Later, in December 2018, a court-appointed panel informed the court that illegal construction was still continuing.
Only last week, the high court had asked Punjab, Haryana and the UT administration to submit fresh status reports with regards to initiatives taken to save Sukhna Lake. The high court bench of justice RK Jain and justice AK Tyagi were hearing a suo motu petition initiated in 2009 to save the lake.
In February this year, the court had ordered a status quo report on the constructions falling in the catchment area, and asked the authorities to strictly enforce the 2012 order, prohibiting any further construction.
The lake, with a depth of about 13 feet, is facing a major water crisis and often dries up during summer. So far, the initiatives of de-silting and pumping in water from other sources have not yielded much results.
The UT has already initiated the process to declare the catchment area falling in Chandigarh as wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The notification will put restrictions on construction and other activities so as to conserve the area.
Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.
The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.
Tricity residents woke up to heavy rainfall for the second time this month on Wednesday. Three people went missing after a taxi, shuttling two commuters, was swept away in a flashflood in the Patiala-Ki-Rao rivulet as the driver attempted to cross the causeway in Tanda Village near Nayagaon. The owner of the vehicle, Rakesh Kumar told the police that Gaurav had called him saying two people, travelling to Baddi, had booked his cab.
Chandigarh received 97mm rainfall between 6am and 8.30am, the heaviest rain in July since 2017, as per the India Meteorological Department. It received another 0.9mm of rainfall during the day. The maximum precipitation till 8.30am was recorded at the Sector 39 observatory (97mm), 49.2mm rain was recorded at the airport observatory, 77.5mm rain in Panchkula and 74.5 mm rain in Mohali.