Flash-floods: Activists say time to act against encroachments

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Activists want action on encroachments
Jammu, Sept 17: With flash floods in River Tawi washing away nearly 400 buildings, roads and bridges and inundating 70 colonies and hamlets, activists feel it is a wake up call for government agencies to act against rampant exploitation of the river choked by dozens of illegal colonies.

As per a survey by State's Revenue Ministry, as many as 12 illegal colonies and hamlets besides scores of commercial buildings have come up on the banks of the River in total violation of the Jammu Master plan.

"We have brought impending havoc by encroaching upon its banks and allowing thousand of constructions along banks. It is partially man-made", Save Tawi-Save Paryavaran Andolan chief advocate Chander Mohan Sharma said.

Sharma along with Save Tawi Samiti headed by Brigadier (Retd) Suchet Singh had recently launched a major campaign in Jammu schools against encroachments on river Tawi "We have been warning state authorities in the past. It did not wake up at all. There has been largescale encroachments on both the banks of the Tawi besides cutting of trees and encroachments within the forests on adjoining slopes of Tawi", Sharma said.

Social activist Ram Pal alleged that "In order to garner votes, politicians in connivance with officials and land mafia allowed mushrooming of illegal colonies and constructions along Tawi River".

Many hamlets on the Tawi River bank were devastated by the floods including Darda hamlet which is close to Sidhra golf course in Jammu city. Labourers from Rajouri and Poonch have also encroached land and set up their houses on the river bed.

"We have settled here for the past 10 to 15 years", Tasfeer Din, who lost everything in the floods, said. Bashir Colony is another settlement on the banks of the river that has been washed away.

"We had purchased land four years ago and constructed a house, which was totally damaged in floods", Gulan Mohmmad said.

"Even Jammu Development Authority (JDA) has declared us illegal and asked us to vacate by giving notices to us few months back", he said.


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