The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the "completely dry" Ramgarh lake due to which the residents of Jaipur were facing acute water shortage and ordered demolition of unauthorised construction in the area.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta noted that unauthorised constructions near the lake, which was a water sports venue during the 1982 Asian Games, have completely dried it up and rendered the catchment areas of Ramgarh dam completely useless.
It was "unfortunate" that today, the lake is dry and apparently heavily encroached upon "due to the omissions and commissions" of various departments of Rajasthan government.
"This is a tragedy of enormous proportions and rather unfortunately, neither the state of Rajasthan, nor the Jaipur development authority, has thought it fit to take stern remedial action," the bench said.
It dismissed the pleas filed by the National Institute of Medical Sciences University (NIMS) and slapped a cost of Rs 10 lakh each for the "brazen encroachment" and said the amount should be deposited in the apex court registry in six weeks.
"It has also come on record that as a matter of fact due to the illegal and unlawful constructions having been made in the area by several parties including NIMS, Ramgarh lake is now absolutely dry and the residents of Jaipur city are suffering from water shortage," the bench said in its judgement.
Water was being supplied to the Jaipur city from here before the lake and the surrounding areas dried up.
Noting the significance of the Ramgarh dam, the bench said it was constructed in 1903 with a catchment area of about 769.20 sq kms spread over four tehsils of Jamvaramgarh, Amer, Shahpura and Viratnagar, and the water harnessed by the dam was a source of irrigation till 1978.
"Thereafter, it became a source of drinking water for Jaipur city. During the Asian Games held in India in 1982, Ramgarh Lake was one of the highlights of the games and events relating to water sports were held in the lake," it said.
The top court observed that the Rajasthan High Court had time and again passed several directions to ensure free flow of water in the catchment areas of Ramgarh dam but nothing substantive has been achieved on the ground.
During the hearing before the top court, the university had said they have not encroached any land but there were a large number of encroachers in the catchment areas.
The bench said that demolition should be carried out by the Jaipur Development Authority with the assistance of the state government and the collector on or before November 30.
It directed the Director General of Police of Rajasthan to render necessary assistance in the process of demolition and said that cost of demolition and removal of rubble would be at the expense of NIMS.
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