“River Gomti set for wider, greener journey” by Times of India
Admin Begins Drive To Clear Encroachments
Times of India
Sunday, May 1, 2011
The river Gomti will soon have widened banks. The administration has begun making efforts for the conservation and restoration of the river at its originating point – Madho Tanda in Pilibhit. The administration has found that the banks of the river have been encroached in at least 33 villages.
The drive has been started under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Act. It will also map the flood plain of the river under land records. The land record assessment reveal that there are about 126 permanent settlers spread over 34 km area along the banks of Gomti. They have their land in between the streams of the river. Since these settlers got their rights over the land more than four decades back, it is not possible to push them out. But district magistrates Pilibhit Kaushal Raj Sharma says that temporary encroachers will not be allowed on the banks. Locals often encroach the land for farming. There are about 400 temporary encroachers in 33 identified villages. Once the area is cleared of encroachments, trees will be planted to restore the greenery and also to keep the encroachers away.
The administrative action has come on the impetus of the Gomti march, which was carried out by the civil society organisations earlier this month. “The organisations will assist us in ensuring that encroachers do not return,” DM said. The Gomti study group had recently highlighted that the originating stretch of the river in Pilibhit was heavily encroached and silted. “Due to this (encroachments) the river was not visible for several kilometers till Ekkotarnath in Pilibhit,” Venkatesh Dutta, convener, Gomti study group, said. After visiting the origin point of the river on April 11, a Cabinet team headed by additional cabinet secretary Ravindra Singh had directed the district administration to get the area cleared.
The administration has started de-silting of the river near Fulhar Lake, considered to be the origin of the river. Gomti is one of the major tributaries of the Ganga. It suffers from pollution, encroachment and reduced flow. The study group had highlighted that upper segment of the river, from its origin at Fulhar lake in Madho Tanda to Namisharanya in Sitapur, is clean but heavily encroached.
“Since origin of the river is in the form of a fragmented lake, local farmers encroach the river-bed every year for 7-8 months for farming,” Dutta said.
The middle segment of the river, from Sitapur to Jaunpur, is highly polluted due to the discharge of untreated industrial effluents and municipal waste water. The effluents are directly dumped into the river through more than 45 waste water drains during its course of urban towns. The lower segment till the confluence is also polluted. Besides, decreasing forest cover and wetlands too are major concerns in the entire Gomti basin. The reduced forest cover has adversely affected the flow of water in the river. In Gomti basin, majority of forests are open and less dense. Except Pilibhit and Kheri, all districts falling under the basin are deficient in green cover.