From river to a pond

Published: Friday 15 May 1998

only a chain of ponds and water bodies remain where there once was a river. The Sonai river in the 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, has disappeared not due to natural changes but due to irresponsible developmental activities.

The river had long lost its exuberance when local municipality filled up parts of the rivulets where they had become weak, leaving only a trail of ponds. It was then that local people concerned for the environment, appealed to the Green Bench of the Calcutta High Court to preserve the 92 water bodies between the Panihati municipality and Khardah in the north. Considering it a writ petition Justice Ramesh Chander Bangopadhyay ordered the municipality to stop filling the river.

He also asked the pollution control board to visit the disputed site and submit a report. To prove the existence of the river they sifted through historical maps, office records and geographical records. The complainants allege that 15 of the 92 ponds have been lost due to construction of buildings. In 1976 the municipality map showed 56 waterbodies in the area. But the 1991 map drawn up by the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority shows only 45 of them.

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