Natural water bodies are of environmental, social and economic value and perform significant functions to maintain and restore ecological balance. In addition to it they also perform the following:
- Provide water for drinking
- recharges ground water
- control floods
- control city's drainage systems
- supports bio diversity, and
- provide livelihood to large number of people
water body encroachments have risen rampantly in the last few decades and several cases from different parts of India have been reported. Urban sprawl led to the cutting of trees and encroachment on water bodies. Rise of skyscrapers and rapid urbanization has destroyed several natural resources. Water bodies in India are in different degrees of degradation. Water bodies that have suffered the most are ponds, lakes and wetlands. Several water bodies in cities are encroached and are dumped with sewerage and garbage.
Though there are several policies and laws that guard the protection and improvement of water bodies. Local development authorities that allocate land for the development purposes often sells water body lands to the builders to make money by going against the laws. In recent case reported in 2013, few social activists have alleged that the new building of Lucknow high Court sits on Ponds. They have alleged that LDA fraudlently sold the land to the High Court so that LDA can use it as their shield. Case is sub-judicious in high court. Activists say that the delay in the decision shows that everyone is not equal in front of law. The late hearing dates are because they are trying to outcast the time of construction of the building.
Petitioners also moved to the Supreme Court seeking justice and requested to move the case to national green tribunal. High court's new building which was under construction and is about to completion. But the haste in the inauguration is what people are doubting.
Several other cases from different parts of Lucknow have been reported of encroaching ponds that has led to the severe fall in the ground water level of the City. Water body encroachment can be considered a major reason for the recent urban floods in Lucknow in the months of monsoon. Water bodies works as the natural drainage of the city and when these natural drains are dumped and water has no place to go, it fill the roads. In a recent survey, Lucknow has been found as the least impacted city under the Swachh Bharat Mission in UP. The solid waste that litters on the roads is either dumped in water bodies on the periphery with the sewerage and drainage or is left unattended.
Few major threats to water bodies:
Population: Our population has been ever increasing without corresponding expansion of civic facilities such as adequate infrastructure for the waste disposal and management. This scenario is especially true for the urban areas. As a result, almost all urban water bodies in India are polluted and are relentlessly used to dispose untreated local sewage and solid waste materials.
Encroachment: Encroachment is another major threat to water bodies particularly in urban areas. Even a small piece of land has a high economic value in urban areas. These are relentlessly encroached thus shrinking the area of the water bodies.
Illegal Mining Activities: Illegal mining especially for building material such as sand and stones both on the catchment and on the bed of the water bodies are yet another reason behind the destruction of many water bodies. Surajkund lake in Haryana, for example have been destroyed by the illegal mining activities.
Eutrophication: Lakes and ponds are especially the victims of Eutrophication. Eutrophication results in the prolific growth of aquatic weeds in lakes and ponds that ultimately disturb and kill the ecology of the waterbody. Bheels of Assam is a well known example of high growth of hyacinth due to pollution.
Unregulated Tourism Activities: Unregulated and unplanned tourist activities near the water bodies have resulted in the relentless dumping of garbage into the nearby water bodies. Dal Lake in Srinagar is an example. In addition, unregulated tourism activities have been known to negatively impact the biodiversity of the area as a whole.
Cultural misuse: Misuse of water bodies for cultural or religious festivals is yet another threat to the water bodies. The activities such as immersion of idols and dead bodies in the water bodies are known to contaminate the water bodies.
What are we looking for:
Encroachments in India have become a frequent scenario. Private builders are sold the lands of ponds,lakes,rivulets and other water bodies and are later developed into construction sites. Unfair trade of unsalable land and negligence towards environmental norms have lead to the ecological disturbance. The water table is going down. Now with the bodies like High Court who serve justice are alleged of encroaching ponds. To whom should people lay their faith upon?
At this point we are researching on the on going case and trying to gather available information through different mediums. We are contacting concerned nodal agencies for the details on the acquired HC land and also citing relevant cases of pond encroachments and their outcomes.
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