A DRAFT report by an experts team of the Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC) has recommended that stream area near Bharonjia and Salamatpur villages in New Chandigarh Township Project should be protected under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), an Act dating back to 1900 that preserves ecologically sensitive land.
In September last year, the apex court had ordered the demolition of a residential colony at Faridabad on the grounds that it came under PLPA.
Villages in Mohali district are seeing rampant real estate development.
The IISWC team revisited the PLPA areas in 12 villages in Mohali district after the Punjab forest and wildlife department requested it to provide ground-level information in relation to areas vulnerable to soil erosion and areas for conservation of moisture.
“The area is adjoining the newly planned New Chandigarh. On the bank of the stream, real estate development is progressing. The banks of the stream are unprotected and there are chances that in event of heavy rain the stream will overflow and can damage the adjoining areas,” the report said while referring to Bharonjia village.
The National Green Tribunal had last month sought a report from the Punjab government following a complaint which said that ‘The Lake’, a residential complex project by Omaxe Chandigarh Extension Developers Private Limited in New Chandigarh area, was “obstructing the natural flow of Siswan river”.
“Grievance in this application is that Omaxe Chandigarh Extension Developers Pvt Ltd has set up residential complex project called ‘The Lake’ obstructing the natural flow of river Sisvan by filling up and closing a part of it at Bharoujian village and diverting it to another place near by in Kansala, Sub-Tehsil Majri, District SAS Nagar, Mohali. The applicant has relied upon Google image photographs showing that there was a rivulet in the year 2003 and road has been constructed without making any culvert to maintain natural flow of the river. This has resulted in potential for flooding and flooding has actually taken place,” the NGT order had read.
The IISWC report said, “To conserve soil moisture, soil and water conservation measures should be adopted. In addition, permanent vegetation cover is to be maintained for protecting the soil from any further degradation. There is a need to construct gabion spurs in entire stretch of stream particularly at concave sides of bank. The stream area near Bharongia (sic) should be protected under PLPA and soil and water conservation measure should be adopted using mechanical and vegetative measures. Protection of this area will protect nearby areas from submergence/flooding during torrential rains and will also help in groundwater recharge. On the basis of the above it is recommended that the area of village Bharonjian should be kept under PLPA for soil and moisture conservation. Simultaneously, stream bank stabilization measures should be adopted extensively to stop expansion of the stream area.”
The report made a similar observation about Salamatpur and noted, “The stretch near Salamatpur should be protected under PLPA along with adopting soil and water conservation measure using mechanical and vegetative measures.”
The report also recommended areas in Labangarh to be kept under PLPA for soil and moisture conservation. “Due to very high sand percentage, the risk of erosion in this kind of soil is usually very high. At the same time, high permeability of this soil will offer more penetration of soil moisture. So, for better conservation of soil moisture, more forest cover should be maintained under such conditions,” it added.
A government functionary privy to the development said besides the three villages, the IISWC was in the process of submitting the reports for the remaining nine villages. The experts of IISWC conducted field visits in these three villages on September 21.
A notification by the Punjab government is likely to soon close the land under PLPA following the recommendations of IISWC.
The other villages where IISWC carried out the study for identifying areas vulnerable to soil erosion and areas suitable for moisture conservation are Bhukhri, Lakhnour, Dhakoran Kalan, Baliali, Thaska, Malakpur, Landran, Majatri and Mullanpur.