Agra ponds lost to land sharks, Officials get court notice

January 24th, 2011 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Jan 24 (IANS) The Allahabad High Court has issued contempt of court notice to top officials of Agra administration, civic agencies and police over a petition alleging that several ponds in the city have been usurped by builders who have raised multi-storey structures on them.The notice was issued to the divisional commissioner, the district magistrate, the Agra Development Authority vice chairman, the municipal commissioner and the deputy inspector general of police, for committing contempt of court relating to a petition filed by social activist D.K. Joshi.

In his petition, Joshi submitted a list of over a hundred community ponds in the city that had made way for buildings over the years. The court issued the notice Jan 7.

The high court earlier directed the district authorities to take appropriate steps to remove encroachments and restore the ponds to their original status.

Joshi told IANS: “The government agencies did not positively respond to the directions. Therefore, I approached the court which on Jan 7 sent notices to the officials to explain why action should not be initiated against them.”

According to Joshi, the Taj city once had more than 400 ponds. “Now, only a handful are left. Most have been gobbled up by builders,” he said.

“These people (builders and officials) have no shame and are blind due to self-interest,” he said.

In his petition, Joshi referred to a statement of the district magistrate who admitted that 92 ponds had been encroached upon but action had not been taken so far to free the ponds of illegal structures that had come up on them.

“In Bodla area, the district urban development agency has constructed a building right in the middle of a pond,” Joshi said.

Joshi originally filed his petition in 2005. The high court took note of it and directed the district authorities to initiate action after a detailed survey. But nothing happened.

“When no action was taken and the officials kept ignoring my pleas, I again approached the court which has now called five senior officials to file their responses or face contempt of court proceedings,” Joshi said.

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