Illegal structures in Sukhna Lake’s catchment area face demolition

The high court had banned construction in the Sukhna catchment area in Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula in 2012.
Constructions are also in violation of the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Constructions are also in violation of the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Published on Sep 02, 2019 12:53 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

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.

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