Bhadbhada demolition: A massive step towards a historical correction
   Date :25-Feb-2024

Bhadbhada demolition 
By Vijay Phanshikar
THE mass-scale demolitions in the Bhadbhada dam area should be treated as a symbolism of bad governance through decades of deliberate administrative neglect and uncouth political patronage to encroachers. Everybody who wanted to encroach upon this designated forest area on the boundaries of the deeply forested Kaliyasot and Kerwa areas was able to garner enough political clout — for whatever reasons including unofficial financial exchanges — and occupy whatever plots for whatever purposes. So much so that such machinations led to the establishment of many prestigious addresses that now dot the social map of the city and the State of Madhya Pradesh. It is not fathomable at this stage what the actual motivation was to launch such a massive demolition drive that needed dozens of excavators driving into the Bhadbhada dam area and scaring the daylight out of the eyes of the people there. Very frankly, such a situation should never have arrived in the first place. But the very fact that it did arrive shows that a lot of political backing must have been available to the administration whose leadings lights chose to turn a blind eye to the massive encroachments. The travesty is that such a thing should at all have happened in the city that once boasted of great and planned contribution by Chief Secretary Nirmala Buch and her municipal administrator husband Mahesh Buch to making the city of great lakes so beautiful.
The outcome of all those shenanigans is that the environment of the area stands permanently threatened, almost never to be resurrected from the evil grip of human greed that has never cared for ecology. However, a glimmer of hope has emerged through the cracks in the darkness of governmental apathy when the demolition drive began a few days ago in the Bhadbhada dam area. Obviously, somebody high up in the Government appears to have hardened the stand against encroachers. Whosoever that ‘somebody’ may be, he — or she — has chosen to rise above any pressure that might have been applied to stall the daring official move. But the Bhadbhada dam area demolition episode should be enough to teach the Madhya Pradesh Government and its administrative cadres and its political community and its people a good lesson for the future. For, it is bounden duty of everybody among these layers of the larger society to ensure that ecology is far more important than any other interests of whosoever person at whichever level.
It is common knowledge that the Bhadbhada dam area adjoins the deeply forested Kaliyasot and Kerwa areas where wildlife numbers — including those of tigers — are enviably rich. And, as is common knowledge, the tigers in the forests adjoining the Bhadbhada dam area are known to be of docile nature, in the sense they are not known to attack humans, a very few stray incidents notwithstanding. It should have been the foremost duty of the administration, therefore, to retain the original pristine nature of the forest area around the Bhadbhada dam that was contiguous with the neighbouring forests. Instead of exercising such a moral restraint, the powers that be allowed their minions to start encroaching upon the Bhadbhada dam area initially on the sly and subsequently openly. This is the gist of the tragic story of a wonderful ecological ecosystem that was allowed to be destroyed so brazenly. True, while all this was happening, several people in the pyramid of official power must have proffered many so-called convincing arguments to cover up their proposed wrong-doing. Their superiors also must have accepted those arguments and must have put their approvals to the anti-ecology designs.
For, when such encroachments happen in such massive proportions, those must have taken place under some or the other official pretext. This is how environment has often been assailed and devastated not just in India but also all over the world. Now that a massive encroachment-demolition drive has been undertaken in the Bhadbhada dam area, the hope has arisen that further damage to ecology may be averted. It may not be a bad idea, therefore, to suggest that a detailed investigation may be launched to unearth the evidence of how the whole dirty work began and under whose patronage in the first place.