M A I N   N E W S

MC helpless as houses come up on riverbed
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, September 21
Encouraged by the government’s construction activity, encroachers along the Beas and its tributary Saketi khud have raised houses right on the riverbed, exposing residents to the risk of flash floods.

These houses have become death traps, violating the High Court order passed in 1995 that forbade construction within 25 metres from the highest flood level (HFL).

Reliving the horror of the 1962 floods in the Saketi khud and the Beas, the residents say that the flood had washed away several houses and had damaged others.

Despite the flood threat, neither the Mandi Municipal Council nor the Town and Country Planning Department have taken steps to check the construction from the Sauli khud to the riverbank resort along the Beas and from Mangwani to the lower Bheuli areas along the Saketi khud in the town.

Residents are building houses inside the flood plain of the Beas and the khuds.

More than 100 houses have come up along the Beas from where the council areas start. The houses along the lower areas along the riverside have no sewerage system and sewers open into the river. The Beas water that flows a few hundred metres downstream is lifted up to the Motipur treatment plant before it is supplied to the residents for drinking purposes.

Even a parking lot is coming up in the flood zone, making a mockery of the funds allocated by the former Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Anil Sharma, sources revealed. If the BBMB opened its flood gates during the rains, the houses along the river in the lower side would face flood fury. “Even when two gates are opened the river water hit the basement of the houses, but there is no check on the construction and it is spreading along the Beas within the municipal limits”, the sources said.

The income tax building—Bipasha—Sadan —in Ward No 2 has been raised inside the HFL of the river. With this precedent, several residents have raised their houses near the protection wall that had been raised after the 1962 floods. In Ward Nos 8 and 9 and the Magwani areas, the residents have constructed houses on the river flood plain, violating the high court order.

The residents said builders forced councillors to get no-objection certificates from the MC and the Town Planning Department. If the MC raised objections, ministers interfered and the certificates were issued without any problem, they alleged.

In the Sakeodi khud and Tarna nullah, several houses have come up along the banks. The owners are now demanding that a flood protection wall should be erected as the water enters the houses during the rains.

Expressing helpless, the MC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ratan Lal Sharma, said they had neither the infrastructure nor support to check unauthorised construction. “Other departments like forest, revenue and town and country planning share the responsibility”, he added.

Town planner A.N. Gautam said the Town and Country Planning Department checked the violations and encroachments in the areas within the development plan of the town but to check the encroachments within the town lay with the MC. He said several houses had been built before the high court passed the order in 1995.

Mrs Sushila Sonkhla, MC president, said the committee could do little to check the encroachments as the direction comes from the top level. “But we remove encroachments which are brought to our notice”, she said.


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