On April 21, 2003, the Supreme Court (SC) directed the Kolkata High Court (HC) to take
immediate steps to evict squatters around Rabindra sarobar (RS). This order follows a
public interest litigation filed by Howarh Gantantrik Nagarik Samiti in June 1997, to
protect RS from decay due to encroachment. A bench comprising Justice NS Hegde and
Justice BPSingh deliberated on an appeal filed by the central government. It challenged
the HCs decision to provide civic facilities to the squatters instead of asking them
to leave the area.
SC order has evoked criticism. "The order applies to the residents of Gobindapur
Railway Colony (GRC), which is located adjacent to RS. But it says nothing about the
people from the other slums like Mollahati and Mutiapara, who are also using RSs
water", said a concerned resident. Sukhendusekhar Ray from Ekata, a local NGO,
calling it an unfortunate decision asks, "Why does this eviction order just includes
the slum dwellers. There are private clubs within RS, which regularly discharge waste into
the sarobar, but no one seems to question their actions, as a number of celebrities are
Can these eviction orders restrict the entry of pollutants in RS? Not many agree!
pick up cudgels
|Join the BIG fight
M K Balakrishnan, an advocate, has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme
Court of India to protect all the waterbodies in the country. In this context, he needs
your assistance. If you have any information that could strengthen this case, share it
and, save your own waterbodies from decay.
Write to him, at: M KBalakrishnan,
37 Lawyers Chamber,
Supreme Court, New Delhi 110001
Tel: 230 70449 (lounge);
E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
On December 20, 2002, the resident welfare association (RWA) of F, M and N blocks in
Naveen Shahdara, Delhi, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) to restore Seelampur
depression I, a local water body. Taking a pro-active stand, the High Court (HC) asked the
concerned authority - Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to submit the plan for its
revival by August 2003.
Seelampur depression I is an old water body surrounded with a park. The problem
however, surfaced in the year 1987. When the ex union minister HKLBhagat, decided to
develop the park as a fruit and flower garden. Consequently, the 35 acre park was
transferred to the MCD for development that now stands encroached. MCDs
multi-storied zonal office, Delhi Vidyut Boards 33 KVA grid, private
nursery has come up on the lake and the park area. Last year, when MCD decided to fill up
the remaining portion of the depression to build Delhi polices (DP) staff quarters,
residents decided to approach the court.
The RWA appealed action against the MCD for willfully violating the HCs order,
while the hearing of another PIL filed by Tapas, an NGO, to protect waterbodies in Delhi
in 2000 was in progress. In the Tapas case, the court has clearly directed all the land
owning agencies to maintain water bodies, irrespective of their size.
The HC took notice. The bench comprising Chief Justice BCPatel and Justice BDAhmed
ordered a restraint on MCDs actions, as it found the MCD and DPs claims
conflicting. MCD maintained that "the lake is in its possession". Whereas, the
DP said that "this land has been allotted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA)
for residential construction". In this regard, the court deliberated on the question
that "if Seelampur depression is a water body, can it be allotted or leased
out?" While drawing upon sub section (1) of section 2 of the DDA act and a number of
other judgments, the bench clarified that "rivers, ponds, water bodies are not
included in land as they are to be preserved as water bodies". The HC asked,
"How can DDA lease out? When they know better than the petitioner regarding the
The sustainable conservation of the lake has been ensured, as the citizens pick up the
cudgels. For details: Alok Kumar; Tel:23943161
The international foundation Global Nature Fund
(GNF) has initiated solar lake campaign to protect the climate in the lake regions. Along
with regional environmental organisations, it is promoting the use of solar technologies
like emission free boats and eco-camping in the lake zone of 19 European countries. These
steps aim at reducing pollution while adding economic value to the entire region.
At Lake Constance, solar powerboats have been successfully
operating for pleasure, natural excursions and research purposes. These vessels harness
energy from photovoltaic cells and have the capacity to carry four to 120 people. Kopf AG,
a commercial enterprise and the financial partner of GNF has undertaken the responsibility
of constructing such boats.
Similarly, between the Swiss and German border of Lake
Constance, the solar passenger ferry HELIO is plying. Further, at different camping sites
around localised lakes solar panels have been installed for electricity generation. To
popularise such initiatives among its members, GNF plans to hold a competition. It will
bring some of the significant works on the forefront encouraging wide scale
replication of the technique. The era of living with lakes has begun!