Study shows pond filling
Jalpaiguri: A survey by a group of geography teachers has shown that around half of 50 waterbodies in Jalpaiguri town have been filled up and some of them used for real estate purposes.
The survey was carried out by the Jalpaiguri district committee of the Bangiya Bhugol Mancha, which represents geography teachers across the state. The study was undertaken from May 2016 to October last year.
"The waterbodies are being filled up with garbage and earth in a planned manner and then, the character of the land is changed. The plots are sold to build houses and multi-storied buildings. We will share the report with the Jalpaiguri civic body and some government agencies to discourage the illegal practice," said Jatishwar Bharati, the Jalpaiguri district secretary of the Mancha.
In the survey, it has been found that out of the 50 waterbodies, six ponds and swamps are on government land. Garbage is being dumped in three of the six on a regular basis.
"Of the remaining 44 ponds which are privately owned, around half have been filled up either completely or partially," said a member of the survey team.
A senior official of the state fisheries department said even private ponds couldn't be filled up without proper permission.
"We have taken up the task of restoring waterbodies across north Bengal in phases. Even if a pond is privately owned, the owner cannot fill it up without permission. There are strict regulations and laws with regard to conservation of waterbodies. In case we receive any complaint, our department will take steps against those involved in the reclamation of waterbodies," said R.F. Lepcha, the additional director of fisheries, north Bengal.
On the other hand, he has said, the department will help pond owners if they wish to start pisciculture.
In Jalpaiguri, there are 25 wards covering an area of 12.5 square kilometres. The Mancha said the waterbodies spanning 0.2572 square kilometres form 2.06 per cent of the total area in the town.
While 12 wards have no waterbody, ward 3 has the highest number of ponds. "The largest waterbody in Jalpaiguri is Rajbari Dighi, located opposite to the palace of Baikunthapur Estate," said a Mancha representative.
Recently, the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority has renovated the banks of Rajbari Dighi.
"We have restored a number of waterbodies in the town. People should deposit garbage in the vans which move around in all wards every day. If some people keep on dumping trash in adjoining ponds, we will take action," said Mohan Bose, the chairman of Jalpaiguri municipality.