Demarcate catchment area around Sukhna Lake afresh: Punjab to HC

Sukhna Lake, catchment areas in Sukhna Lake, chandigarh city news, punjab and haryana high court

Sukhna catchment area in Chandigarh Thursday. (Express photo/Jaipal Singh)

THE PUNJAB government in a report submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday said that a fresh survey be carried out for a scientific demarcation of the catchment area around Sukhna Lake with the assistance of technical experts for proper adjudication of the issue, while asserting that it has not sanctioned any building plan in Kansal area after the May 2012 court orders even if the area falls in “residential” zones of the local Master Plan.

Punjab has reiterated its 2012 stand, which was then rejected by the court, that the map of the catchment area needs to be re-drawn after taking note of changes in surface over the years. In 2012, the Punjab government in an official meeting before a committee set up on court orders had raised an objection that certain area in 1963 had been acquired for conservation of catchment area of Sukhna Lake and after that several check dams were made from Naya Gaon to Saketri in the forest areas “which has caused hindrance in the natural flow of water”. Punjab had suggested a fresh survey needs to be done to note the changes that have taken place since 1963.

While a sub-committee of a hydrologist, geographer and a representative of Survey of India was decided to be constituted after the meetings, the High Court later rejected it saying the 2004 map does not need to be authenticated by the experts’ committee. In the latest report before the court, Punjab has said that it has time and again said the map was never adjudicated and the Survey of India itself has expressed that its map only depicts topography of the area.

“In the light of this, it becomes absolutely essential that the demarcation of the catchment area be done with the assistance of technical experts for the proper adjudication of the issues involved in the present writ petition,” reads the government reply while referring to the case in which the court is hearing the issue regarding existence of illegal constructions in Sukhna’s catchment area on Punjab side.

The government has said that Punjab right since 2011 has asserted that the area falling within the plains of Kansal does not fall within the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake “for the purpose of serving as the feeder channel to the lake strictly due to the difference of alleviation of the area as well as the specific exclusion of such area from the land acquired for the purpose of the catchment area in 1963”.

A total of 2,988 acres of area fell within the revenue estate of Kansal and out of this, 2,498 acres was acquired for the purpose of soil conservation by way of notification of 1963 for the catchment area of Sukhna Lake and the Chandigarh Capitol Project. Punjab has said Kansal amounts to only 2-5 per cent of the “alleged catchment area” as per the Survey of India 2004 map. It has also said that there is no natural slope by way of which the water would naturally flow into Sukhna Lake from Kansal as the height of Kaimbwala village, Lake Club and other adjoining construction would not allow the water flow directly into Sukhna from Naya Gaon-Karoran.

The government report also notes that a Master Plan-2012 was issued in 2008 and notified in 2009 after considering all the objections and it divides the entire area of Naya Gaon into five zones. “Zone A and B is area of Village Kansal proposed for various land uses, Zone C is proposed for forest. Zone D and E are area of village Nada and Karoran proposed for various land uses,” reads the report.

Stating that the Master Plan-2012 was never challenged, the Punjab government has said that after stay order was passed on any constructions within the catchment area in 2012, the Naya Gaon Municipal Council has issued various notices for demolition of the constructions and has constituted two teams to monitor the construction activities.

Pertinently, Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu in his application in the case in January had said a physical inspection of the area, study of rain pattern and flow of rainwater from the area for the past 50 years would render outdated the Survey of India map — in terms of which the court ordered ban on further constructions in the catchment area. He had said following the map now would open “a Pandora’s Box” and also raise questions regarding a part of the building of the High Court complex. The implementation in terms of the 2004 map would further question the Master plan which is already being implemented, Sandhu had said.