Saving Sukhna: Homes, marriage palace razed in demolition drive at Khuda Alisher, Kaimbwala villages
Following HC directions, structures in the Sukhna catchment area and outside the village lal dora built in violation of the Periphery Act were demolishedUpdated: Sep 30, 2019, 23:50 IST
Even as people protested, more than 20 structures, including a marriage palace and housing units, built in violation of the Punjab New Capital (Periphery) Control Act, were demolished on Monday in Khuda Alisher and Kaimbwala villages, which are part of the Sukhna catchment area. The effort is an attempt to save the lake.
An automobile repair shop, residential building in which multiple rooms were rented out, two shops, the boundary wall of a farmhouse in Khuda Alisher, and around 10 housing units in Kaimbwala village were razed.
As locals from both villages protested, some claiming stay orders from the Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) on demolitions, more than 200 police personnel and around 50 officials from civil defence, estate office and enforcement departments participated in the drive. It was conducted peacefully between 11 am and 3.30 pm and was led by Nazuk Kumar, UT Land Acquisition Officer (LAO).
Following HC directions, structures in the Sukhna catchment area and outside the village lal dora built in violation of the Periphery Act were demolished, Nazuk Kumar said later.
Lal dora is a portion of village land which is part of the village ‘abadi’ (habitation) where constructions are allowed.
Later in the day, the UT submitted a report to HC on the drive.
On the HC stay claim, Hukum Chand, ex-sarpanch of Khuda Alisher said “We showed the administration officials the HC’s stay order but they went ahead with the drive. The court order states that the demolition drive cannot be carried out here till the next hearing for a case pending with it. The administration officials were in a hurry to carry out the demolition because they had to submit a report with the HC.”
Duleep Kumar, a local leader in Kaimbwala, too, added that no notices were issued for the demolition drive. “Poor people’s houses and a storage area were demolished,” he said.
Officials, however, said due process of law was adopted to carry out the drive. On Khuda Alisher, Nazuk Kumar said, “There is no blanket stay order against the anti-encroachment drive in the village. In Kaimbwala, only constructions outside the lal dora were demolished. Initially notices were issued and after the due process was completed the demolition drive was initiated.”
Significantly, in 2012, the HC had banned construction in the Sukhna catchment area falling in Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula. Villages like Kaimbwala, Khuda Alisher, Kansal and Saketri are part of it.
HC had issued directions for maintaining the catchment area as such, which is vital for restoring the Sukhna Lake and said no housing colonies or building activities take place there.
In August this year, HC had asked Punjab, Haryana and the UT administration to submit fresh status reports on initiatives to save the lake.
Sukhna faces a crisis as rampant construction in the catchment area could choke the lake.
The UT has initiated the process to declare the catchment area falling in Chandigarh as wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.