BHOPAL: For first time in the history of National Green Tribunal (NGT), a 20-year-old law student Abhay Jain from Shivpuri district, forced the administration to stir to action to save important lakes from depletion. He filed a case with NGT central bench against the state government and Shivpuri Municipal Council about destruction of water bodies and "colonization" of dry lakes in the district argued the case and emerged victorious.


He made the administration work on projects to save water and lakes, which has been pending since 2007. The municipal council was asked to impose a fine of up to Rs 5,000 on polluters of lakes .

Sharing his story and talking about condition of dilapidated lakes which could have saved Shivpuri from the tag of "drought-hit" area in 2015, Abhay said, "In June, 2015, we gave several representations to collector, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and municipal council president stating that effects of El Nino can cause drought here and if these lakes are not saved, there could be an acute crisis of drinking water. But they did not take action. Moreover, encroachers from nearby areas were causing damage to lakes by releasing municipal waste. And there was another problem of immersion of idols."

"Toughest part during the legal battle was authorities did not reply to any of my RTIs filed with the municipal council, public health engineering (PHE) department, irrigation department," he said.

This fifth year student from National Law University (NLU), Odisha, who is dedicated to his district and its improvement along with his friends, was juggling between his academic assignments and internships while taking forward this issue. Aware that Sankhya Sagar and Chandapatha lakes function as main biodiversity support systems in famous Madhav National Park in Shivpuri, he highlighted it before the green tribunal. The case was registered with NGT on December 15, 2015.

Shivpuri has been declared a drought-hit region by the government in 2015 and there has been severe water crisis in Shivpuri from the beginning of this year. Most of these water bodies have dried up and the few remaining are in a dilapidated condition with waste and encroachments, which affected life of people and wildlife. In past two years, people in the district have been travelling long distances, usually up to a couple of km, to fetch water and ugly fights over water are common, .

In its order on March 29, NGT said: "Municipal body should take preventive and penal action against polluter of water bodies, including imposition of fine up to Rs 5,000 and direct people responsible to remove the same. The municipal body shall ensure that no construction is allowed in violation of building regulation and maintaining minimum distance from water bodies in accordance with guideline, master plan of town and country planning department (T & NCP) whichever is applicable. They were directed on clean up of water bodies and make a plan for solid waste management in the district.

The green tribunal directed regional officer of MPPCB to monitor overall condition of water bodies in Shivpuri.

Collectorspeak

"The project of sewerage treatment plant at Chandrapatha Lake , which is major one, has been given environmental clearance in April this year. Now, the project is ready to take off as it has been surveyed by the PHE also. It will take another six months and then Shivpuri district can have clean water" - Rajeev Chandra Dubey, Collector Shivpuri


Facts on Shivpuri and drought:


1. Water is not available in Shivpuri even at 1,200 ft. Usually, it is found at 300ft across India.

2. Fights for water among people have been erupting across the district due to impact of acute drought last year.

3. The lake in Madhav National Park (MNP) on outskirts of Shivpuri town, has for first time gone almost completely dry in 50 years

4. People from villages have been travelling 4-5 km to fetch water for survival



Source: TIMES OF INDIA 21 MAY 2016