Union Territory of Chandigarh enjoys ‘City Beautiful’ tag for better planned urban development. Undoubtedly the city has wide roads, abundant green patches, well planned residential sectors, public amenities, cyclist tracks etc.; however dumping of solid waste and untreated sewage around its periphery shows that the city performs poorly in managing its water and natural sources.
The story of Faidan Nizampur also known as Faidan Pind drain near Airport is an apt example showing that while city manages to get beautiful tag, the rivulets and lives of people around it have turned miserable by increasing pollution load and other issues.
Faidan Pind seems like an unauthorised colonies on the outskirt of Chandigarh. The growing settlement is covered by city from West and North sides, while the Airport area and Jagatpura village in Punjab seems restricting its expansion in east and south direction.
Showing land records some residents claim to be native villagers, while many others accept to have settled there over past one and half decade. The habitations is dotted with Kutcha roads, unpaved streets and precariously built cluster of houses.
Moreover, a 10 km long storm water drain known as Faidan Pind Ka Nala snakes through the area bisecting it into two halves. A temporary iron-mess bridge connects the both sides. Faidan Pind Nala joins N Choe –another natural drainage meandering though the Chandigarh and Mohali- at Manuli village. N Choe also carries untreated waste water which is then discharges into Ghaggar river near Sarala Khurd village in Patiala district.
Chandigarh Polluting Water Sources and Lives
Along the Faidan Pind drain heaps of solid waste can be seen piled up at any point of time. Locals tell that junk dealers, rag pickers bring the solid waste – mostly unused plastic items- there for segregation before sending them for recycling. Post segregation leftovers in huge amount is pushed alongside slopes which then ultimately finds its way into the Faidan Pind Drain.
Images showing solid and liquid waste problem in and around Faidan Pind drain. (Bhim Singh Rawat, Nov. 10, 2019)
In the catchment of the drain lies couple of industrial clusters. The drain passes close to a sewage treatment plant (STP) located at Raghuveer Nagar which seems by-passing all the pollution in the drain without any treatment. Further, a walk along the drain reveals that untreated effluents from Sector 47, 48, 67 and other city areas built across the road is entering the Nala round the clock.
Videos showing solid and liquid waste problem in and around Faidan Pind drain. (Bhim Singh Rawat, Nov. 10, 2019)
“There was a time, the drain used to carry clean water, but now it stinks like hell”, says Pralahd Tiwari, a local living in the area for last one decade. All the domestic waste water from the Faidan Pind also goes straight into the stream. Due to lack of solid waste collection and segregation facilities, residents also are throwing their household waste into the drain. As a result, the storm water drain has been converted into a sewage and effluent carrying channel.
Man made floods aggravating the miseries
On July 9 and August 20 2019, Faidan Pind Nala created flood havoc in the area. The administration had to vacate more than a dozen houses. People lament that about four houses along the drain collapsed. Seeking compensation and channelization of the drain, some even blamed that excess run off from City area was diverted into the drain though a huge canal like structure.
Indeed lacking proper drainage, Chandigarh faces water logging and stagnation during monsoon. N Choe and Patiala Ki Rao flowing through middle and west boundary of the city flush out part of rainfall water. A major part of city has gradient in South-East direction.
Video showing damage done by flooding in Faidan Pind drain in July, August 2019
As a result large amount of storm water is diverted into Faidan Pind Nala. The flash floods in the drain have been eroding its bank endangering the houses along its bank. In past too, a bridge and several houses were damaged due to flood deluge.
In fact, the City Beautiful seems to have ensured seeming cleanliness by shifting solid waste and untreated effluents towards peripheral areas. Nevertheless, the less privileged and vulnerable people are suffering due to these acts of mismanaging waste and run offs.
Images showing miserable conditions of Faidan pind residents, houses damaged by flash floods in the drain and constructed canal carrying Chandigarh run off into Faidan Pind drain. (Bhim Singh Rawat/SANDRP, Nov. 10, 2019)
It’s true that living and building houses along the drains is sure invitation to disaster. However the people are not there by choice. They deserve serious attention and better living conditions which can be addressed if city authorities and administration look into their plight through holistic mind-set. Shifting problems to other areas do not make a ‘City Beautiful’.
Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)