BALASORE: The rampant filling of ponds and water bodies by the builders and private house owners has threatened the eco-system in the flood prone areas of Balasore. The district has been witnessing high temperature and acute drinking water shortage during summer and frequent floods during monsoon.
Environmentalists have raised concern over construction of protection walls around ponds and said it violates the Supreme Court ruling which emphasises protection of wetlands surrounding the water bodies.
Sources said though the State Government has launched schemes like ‘Mo Pokhari Yojana’ and the World Bank funded Odisha Community Tank Development Project for renovation and restoration of ponds, the authorities concerned have failed to prevent the land mafia from filling up water bodies especially in urban areas.
Environmentalist PK Padhi said more than 100 big ponds in the town areas of the northern parts of the State have been filled up by either individuals or private builders for construction purposes in the last five years. Even after repeated complaints by the locals, neither the Municipality nor the Town Planning authorities have taken any initiative to stop this.
Padhi said the collusion of the officials in increasing the estimate of the World Bank funded project had violated the apex court ruling on the construction over the water bodies and wetland.
In a recent judgment, while dismissing the plea for allowing construction on a village pond in Punjab, a bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra had also given directions to all the State Governments that they should prepare schemes for eviction of illegal and unauthorised occupants of such land and directed the Chief Secretaries of the States to implement it with immediate effect.
Perturbed over illegal filling up water bodies, a group of locals led by Padhi have written to the Government to take steps to protect water bodies. They demanded the Government to formulate a law which can allow anybody to lodge complaint against the pond fillers in the police station and get them arrested.