Encroachments choking river banks, rivulets – alarms Manali

A disaster waiting to happen - Damming, Choking Natural Water Flows

Manali: Rivulets and water channels in Manali valley are being choked with encroachments and dumping of waste materials. Huge dumps of earth in rivulets are visible from the main road. The dumps are just about 100 m from the bridge over the rivulet on the Manali state highway and national highway. Even villagers are using the rivulets to dump debris.

The river, already choked with silt, can pose a threat to the nearby bridges in the forthcoming monsoon seasons. In case, the course of water in the Rivulets changes, it can damage life and property of people residing in nearby areas.

However, the Mining and Irrigation Department officials seem to be turning a blind eye to the entire situation.

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About 50 rivulets of the district, which are tributaries of the beas and Parvati rivers, are known for their unpredictable behavior during the monsoon. Just last year, the region witnessed heavy rainfall for just an hour during the monsoons and that resulted an unprecedented rise in the water level in many rivulets.

Even damage to property was reported as water of  Manali rivulet entered farm lands and a house constructed close to the rivulet bed, in clear violation of building rule laws.

At many places in Sharu, Simsa, Shyal, Old Manali and Vashisht, to name the few areas of Manali, illegal constructions have come up as hotels, houses and colonies close to river and rivulet banks that has obstructed and reduced the natural flow systems of the streams and rivers.

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In accordance with building law regulations, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) is required from Country and Town Planning Department (TCP) as well as the Irrigation Department before any construction near Rivulets and rivers can be undertaken.

However, officials of these department say that they had not issued any NOC in most of the cases.

The irrigation officials allege that in a large number of cases even the rivulet beds were classified as private property.

“We have written to the government to empower us to stop encroachments on rivers, irrespective of the fact that they are private properties,” an official told Hill Post.

“However, till date, the government has not responded,” he rued.

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Proposals had been sent to the government many times to get riverbeds demarcated so that encroachments could be checked. However, the successive governments lacked the will to execute the proposal that was in the larger interest of public, the official, who did not want to be identified told the Hill Post.

The sources here said encroachments on beds of rivulets was also affecting the groundwater level in the area. Manali TCP officials have passed the buck by saying that they were not responsible as the issue did not fall under their preview.

Jyoti Rana SDM Manali confided with Hill Post said that the matter had not been brought to her notice but she assured that it would be taken up with the concern authorities without wasting any further time.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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