Friday, July 24, 2015

Bhopal Notes - 8: Saving Kaliasot River


Kaliyasot River

Looks like Kaliyasot River has been saved. River Kaliyasot, as is well known flows through the city limits and is a tributary of River Betwa – an important river of the state. The builders, with the active cooperation of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation and the state government, had almost succeeded in killing it. It was only because of a petition in the National Green Tribunal that it seems like the river will take its original shape.

For this the entire city and the people who live downstream of the river ought to be grateful to one environmentalist, Dr. Subhash C. Pandey, who relentlessly pursued the matter and exposed the lies of the district and municipal officials. Fearlessly he pursued the matter despite the chief minister’s “mai ka lal” speech before the municipal elections. There has been anxiety among people who had booked flats in the up ‘n’ coming constructions essentially against which the petition of Pandey was directed. The chief minister, perhaps knowingly, extended to them an assurance in an election speech which could turn out to be false.

In its orders in March last the NGT had said that there would be a green belt of 30 metres on both banks of the river and no construction should be allowed within 200 metres from the banks. In order to overcome the restrictions the builders had not only erected 2 feet broad walls on both sides in the prohibited zone, they also tried to fill up the river with stones, rubbish and copra. The officials, apparently, were giving false assurances to the NGT that the sanctity of its orders had been adhered to but, not satisfied with their contention, the Tribunal ordered another investigation. The results of the investigations were placed before it the other day wherein the district officials admitted about the efforts of the builders to fill up the river. While admitting the builders’ irregular activities the district officials did not disclose their names. Quite clearly, they were in league with the builders or were, perhaps, even in their pay-rolls. They were naturally severely admonished by the two-member tribunal.

One feels that not only the builders but even the district and municipal officials should be prosecuted for perjury. They were all trying to mislead the tribunal the status of which is of no less than that of a high court. Unless this is done hoodwinking of the tribunal is likely to continue without any fear.
One doesn’t know how much harm to the natural assets of the city and its environment is being caused by the corrupt district and municipal officials. But for some spirited environmentalists and Bhopal Citizens’ Forum in tandem with an objective and impartial NGT the environment of the city would have by now degenerated to a very great extent. The builders are the most insensitive to the environmental needs of the city. What they know is only their profit and colluders in the official and municipal agencies care only for their spin-offs.

Copra seems to have become a handy material for the officials of the municipal corporation to create land where there is none. This is what they have been caught doing at Khanugaon where their plan was to create a tourist cluster in collaboration with the MP State Tourism Development Corporation by reclaiming a part of the Upper Lake. The officials of these agencies and of the government do not seem to realise the enormity of harm they tried to cause to the environment of the city and its people just for their short term gains. Enough harm has already been done to the lakes and the rivers that flowed through the city. One supposes that any further harm will cause irreversible changes that may prove to be disastrous. Eternal vigilance on the part of everyone is, therefore, the need of the hour

Photo above of Kalisot River is from internet
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