Plagued by pollution, 2,200 Najafgarh farmers seek compensation from government

Around 2,200 farmers in the villages surrounding the 41-kilometre-long Najafgarh drain have submitted a letter to the state human rights commission, asking to be compensated for losses suffered because of the frequent flooding and submerging of their lands due to the overflow of the drain.

According to the farmers, around 5,600 acres of their land in eight villages, namely Dharampur, Mohammad Heri, Daulatabad, Kherki Majra, Dhankot, Chandu, Budhera and Makdola, remain submerged almost throughout the year, as a result of which they are unable to cultivate.

“The rampant pollution and untreated sewage from the drain are making the land uncultivable. We can’t sow anything nor can we sell the land,” said Rakesh Janghu, a farmer in Daulatabad, adding that this part of Najafgarh should be declared as a wetland so that they could receive appropriate compensation.

The Najafgarh drain has its source in the Sahibi river, which is a tributary of Yamuna. The Sahibi river is now colloquially called Najafgarh drain because of the untreated sewage that is dumped into its waters. The drain carries water to the seven-kilometre-long Najafgarh lake on the Delhi-Haryana border.

In February 2017, the Haryana government had, retracting its previous stand about the area having no natural lake, informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a response to a petition by Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH), that Najafgarh was a wetland. However, more than two years later, no such notification has been made.

The state government had, in December last year, rolled out a proposal to build a check dam to reclaim the land belonging to the farmers to avoid spillage.

“If not declared as a wetland, a check damn should at least be built. That way, sewage won’t leak into our fields,” said Janghu.

The NGT, in April this year, sought a report on the action taken by the Haryana government after the INTACH filed an application in the tribunal, alleging it was deviating from its stand to declare Najafgarh a wetland by proposing construction of the dam.

“Declaring the area a wetland will help address the issue of water scarcity in the city. The city has already lost Ghata lake to urbanisation. The lake could act as a water recharge zone,” said Manu Bhatnagar, INTACH. However, he said, the farmers should approach the court to claim their rights.

“Destruction of the wetland has ecological consequences. Dams are only money-making techniques, and are destructive for a city like Gurugram, which is expected to run out of groundwater soon,” Bhatnagar said.

First Published:
Apr 16, 2019 06:16 IST

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