These 'River View' apartments could get you in neck deep!

The increase in construction activity in and around the Kaliasot river in Bhopal is not only causing social unrest but also poses a danger to residents in the river's vicinity.
Construction work in progress within the Kaliasot river basin area (Source: Shirish Khare) Construction work in progress within the Kaliasot river basin area (Source: Shirish Khare)

At a time when the Central Government has stressed the need to protect our rivers, the Kaliasot river green belt in Madhya Pradesh has witnessed haphazard growth due to illegal constructions. Not only has the flow of the river which flows from the center of Bhopal been affected, but also community lives have been impacted. For the last five years, people living near the side of the Kaliasot have faced flood-like situation during the rainy season. Many families have suffered heavy financial losses and also lost a few members due to this unregulated growth.

 

 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which is a specialised body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues, was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 to facilitate the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection. Per a report on the Kaliasot river submitted to the NGT, nearly 36 km of the two ends of the river across the city is covered by buildings. There are about 20 encroachments that have gone right into the river and the land and real estate mafia has illegally occupied an area of approximately 23,78,000 meters of the green belt.

 

"In case of excess rain, the government of Madhya Pradesh has to open all the 13 gates of the Kaliasot Dam on Kaliasot river to prevent the dam from breaking. In that case residents living on the encroached lands and commercial areas within the vicinity of Kaliasot river bed like Sarvadharm, Mandakini, Amarnath, Daamkheda, Shirdipuram, Baavadiya Kala, Salaiya, Danish Kunj and Sunkedi etc will be under serious threat”, says Prabhat Pandey, retired Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, Madhya Pradesh and the designer of the Kaliasot Dam.

 

“In case of medium rainfall also the water of the dam seriously affects the life of densely populated slums situated behind dams like Ishwar Nagar, Chunnabhatti, Amaltaash, Vaalmi, Shahpura, Trilanaga, Gulmohar, and Manisha market”, says Sugarlal Thakur a resident of Sarvadharm Colony, Bhopal.

 

Due to encroachments, the width of the river has been reducing day by day. As a result, the water overflows and drains into nearby residential colonies. Should the Kaliasot flood, the lives of more than 3 lakh people who live within the vicinity of the river bed will be at stake. 

 

In 2014, the NGT had stayed all ongoing construction in the green belt of the Kaliasot. In July 2015, the NGT's central bench again slammed the state government over realtors altering the course of the Kaliasot and asked the district administration authorities to conduct a thorough probe into the matter within two weeks. So far the Madhya Pradesh government has not taken any visible action against any of the 20 encroachments within the riverbed, which has now spread across 36 km in length.

 

Houses on the green belt

 

The residents of Bhopal who have purchased houses with a view of the Kaliasot river are not only located illegally but are also subject to high risks since these houses are right on the green belt area. In case of heavy rains, the houses on both the sides of the river will get pulled into the river. It would be a mistake to believe that the houses are safe on the basis of the government papers shown by the builders.

 

What government rules say on the green belt

 

  • Any construction on the greenbelt of rivers is illegal.
  • Any construction within 70 meters of the Kaliasot river and 33 meters each from both the sides of the river is an illegal construction and an encroachment on the greenbelt.  

 

Illegal encroachment of the land

 

The biggest attack on the Kaliasot is from the real estate mafia that involves many well-known builders. The slum mafia too is pushing the poor closer towards the river, to continuously extend their empire. “It is the responsibility of the Revenue Department to identify the encroachments within the Kaliasot river bed. If they give us orders to remove the encroachments we will do it”, says Nitin Khare, Sub Engineer with the Kolar Municipal Corporation, Bhopal.

 

Be careful!

 

Check all legal documents and facts before purchasing a place here. Your builder--in the name of River View--will make his money but leave you to your fate like lakhs of other people from Bhopal. In March 2015, the NGT lifted a ban on developmental permission along the Kaliasot. It said construction activity would be restricted to within 200 metres of the green belt area, which is beyond 33 metres on either side from the river bank.

 

“Protecting the Kaliasot, Bhopal’s only river and the people of Bhopal needs our attention and support. Only depending on the NGT's decision will not change the situation much", says Dr.Subhash Pandey, an environmental activist and senior researcher.

 

This article was first published in Hindi in Patrika (see attachment). It has been translated into English and modified by Makarand Purohit and republished with permission from the author as well as Patrika.

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