Land Mafia in Jabalpur: From 84 lakes to less than a dozen within years

Most of the lakes in Jabalpur have been encroached by land mafia and first used as landfills and later illegal housing projects came into existence.

Jabalpur was once a city with 84 lakes. However, with the passage of time, most of the lakes have been encroached and first used as landfills and later illegal housing projects came into existence. The lakes once an abode of fishes has now become so polluted that their water is unfit even for drinking.

The builders’ mafia is so strong that no authority has the guts even to open an investigation against these builders. The latest lake which has become a victim of these builders is Madhotal, a beautiful lake spread over an area of 53 acres that is slowly shrinking due to illegal filling of earth and reclamation.

Lakes Encroached With Political Patronage

The encroachment of lakes in Jabalpur has occurred with full political patronage. Most of these lakes have been created in private lands of late landlords. These lakes were created as philanthropy by oligarchs for the welfare of the people. This enabled the land mafia to fill up these lakes with impunity. Illegal constructions have cropped up all along the outer perimeter of Madhotal.

The JDA had permitted the construction of ISBT in the catchment area of the Lake on the condition that a pathway and a garden will be built. The pathway and the garden have not come into existence but the ISBT has started operating. A Barat Ghar of another heavyweight has also come up in the catchment area. Only about 25 acres of the lake is remaining and it will also end up like the other 50 lakes in the city which has just vanished to the greed of the land mafia in Jabalpur.

SDM Office Just 1 Km Away From The Encroached Site

What is astonishing is the SDM office is just one kilometre from the location of the encroachment but it seems the Government official is powerless or has been effectively silenced. The elderly residents of Madhotal village said that the limits of the lake used to extend for many kilometres and the waters of the lake could be viewed beside the Jabalpur –Katni highway. The water of the lake was used by people for washing and bathing. Today the water is unfit for any use.

According to government records, the Madhotal Lake is spread across 22.59 hectares of water equivalent to 55 acres. The master plan of Jabalpur states that trees were to be planted in 50 meters around the lake. As per the law, no human activities are to be allowed in this part of the land. However, rules have been flouted and construction is continuing unabated.

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