PANCHKULA MUNICIPAL Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Jogpal last week told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that “not even a single drop of sewage was flowing into the Sukhna choe from Saketri”.
But just sixty metres from the main pipeline that the MC has closed to stop sewage flow into Sukhna choe, there is a flow of grey black water into the choe from another part of the village near Panditon ka Mohalla, that residents say is a mix of sewage and waste water from bathrooms and kitchens.
Covered with overgrown wild grass, the area is not easily accessible but Chandigarh Newsline visited the spot and found that sewage plus waste water from this area, which has about 100 houses, is flowing into the choe, the exact point where it meets the choe clearly visible — the sewage is black, and the rain water in the choe is a muddy brown. In the air is the stink of sewage.
Saketri has about 500 houses. While the sewage from about 400 houses is connected to the main pipeline, now closed using a cement block, sewage from “Panditon ka mohalla” flows into the choe. For part of the way, it is carried via a cemented nullah flowing in front of houses. Near Saketri resident Swaran Singh’s house, the cemented nullah ends, and the grey-black water goes on its onward journey to the choe through a channel cut into the grassy growth.
Swaran Singh told Chandigarh Newsline that residents were facing troubles because of the sewage flow and he accused officials of misleading the court. “The MC is misleading the court. Sewage continues to flow into Sukhna choe right in front of my house. It has been a cause of worry for us as well since years as the place has become a breeding place for mosquitoes. It has been three years in a row that my daughter Manroop has been diagnosed with dengue during this season. Why can’t they get sewage water flow checked from here too,” he said.
Swaran Singh said he has written several times to the MC and local councillor. “When my letters to MC and the local councillor to check this flow of dirty water didn’t work much, I wrote at the CM window too but there too I didn’t get any relief,” he said. Singh said the houses had a “pit system for disposal of toilet waste”. When the pits overflow, they start flowing into the cemented nullah, and then ahead into the choe. This is waste is joined by water from kitchens and bathrooms as well, according to the residents.
“It is difficult to come to this place, so no one sees this nallah. I can show it all to the judges if they come here for inspection. They shouldn’t go by what officials say,” he said. “Can these officers live here in this stink with the bathroom water of all the residents in this belt flows right in front of your house. They cannot.. I know.but I am staying and suffering.my wife is ill because of this all the time,” he added. BJP worker Shamsher Singh, a Saketri resident, told Chandigarh Newsline that “it is not true that the complete sewage flow has been checked and sewage is not being released into the Sukhna choe”.
“The sewage water from the entire Panditon ka mohalla is being released here into the choe and the exact situation is not being presented by these lower officials to their seniors,” Shamsher Singh told Chandigarh Newsline.
On Saturday, BJP MLA Gian Chand Gupta who visited the place for the Swachhta campaign was told that no sewage water was going into the Sukhna choe. When the MLA was told by Newsline about the fact that the sewage water continues to flow into the Sukhna choe, Gupta said, “I really have not been informed about it. I visited the bridge area and saw that the main pipeline has been closed and thus no water is being released into the choe. I don’t know about this route you are telling and will get it checked.”
Panchkula Commissioner Rajesh Jogpal, however, maintained that “not a single drop of water was entering the choe”. “Not a single drop is going there. I have got a drone survey done of the entire area. It must be rainwater or a different boundary. Moreover, I cannot comment without seeing the pictures,” he said. Later on Saturday, Jogpal emailed a response to Chandigarh Newsline.
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“I have checked up with my officers and they have told me that no sewage water is flowing from Pandit Mohalla near shamshan ghat, rather it is waste water which is being collected at a place where the check dam is under construction. Moreover the fourth check dam is empty and no water is flowing into Sukhna from Sakteri site,” he specified in the email.
Jogpal did not respond to calls for further clarifications about the location of the under construction check dam, or about the “fourth check dam”, as specified in his email. Superintending Engineer V K Kamboj told Chandigarh Newsline there were check dams but not near the Panditon ka Mohalla. He said waste water that flows from another part of Saketri gets accumulated in the check dams where it percolates into the ground.
“Meanwhile we are making arrangements that no water, be it sewage or waste water, enters from the mohalla into the Sukhna choe. So we are in the process of making temporary arrangement here near this mohalla,” Kamboj said. Deputy Commissioner Mukul Kumar said, “I have been told by the MC Commissioner that the Panditon ka Mohalla you are talking about, from there it is not sewage water and just waste water like dish washing water. Moreover, the MC Commissioner also told me that the waste water from here is not at all flowing to Sukhna Lake. The technical wing is already working on to check this flow into the Choe and that will be done soon. But he says he can assure that no water is flowing into the lake from here.”
On Thursday, to check the claims and counter-claims regarding the flow of sewage into Sukhna Lake from Saketri, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had stated they would inspect the area themselves even as Panchkula Municipal Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Jogpal told the court that not even a single drop of sewage was flowing into the lake from their side. During the resumed hearing of the public interest litigation on Sukhna Lake, the Haryana government counsel told the division bench of Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and Avneesh Jhingan that the sewage has been stopped and the news report on the basis of which the court had summoned Jogpal was incorrect.
The division bench, however, had stated that it would select a date and visit the area for inspection.