Surat : Bhatha Residents Face Major Flooding Risks Due to Illegal Constructions

Prominent diamond barons and builders in Surat have encroached on government territory and illegally constructing farmhouses and residential properties


SURAT : Residents in Bhatha and nearby communities along the Tapi river bank in Surat are at risk of significant floods during the forthcoming monsoon season. The impending danger is partly due to prominent diamond barons and builders in Surat encroaching on government territory and illegally constructing farmhouses and residential properties. These structures are located inside the ‘Hazard Line’ as defined by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2011-19, which heightens the risk.

As the monsoon season approaches, the prospect of floods looms over Bhatha and its surrounding communities. This risk is heightened by unlawful buildings that block the Tapi River’s natural path and disturb rainwater runoff into the sea. Residents are increasingly anxious about the harm that heavy rains could cause.

The principal perpetrators of this impending tragedy are powerful diamond barons and builders who have carried out large-scale unlawful structures. They not only broke the law by trespassing on government land, but they also endangered the lives and property of numerous residents.

The CRZ Notification 2011-19 was created to restrict construction activity in coastal areas. It establishes the ‘Hazard Line’ to safeguard vulnerable areas from unchecked development. Any project in this area must be pre-approved by the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority to guarantee compliance with environmental regulations.

Darshan Nayak, a social activist, has played a leading role in spreading awareness about this issue. He has made a thorough memorandum to Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and the Surat District Collector, outlining the unlawful buildings of diamond barons and builders. Nayak’s involvement stems from a profound concern for the safety and well-being of the local populations.

Nayak has given a large amount of documentary material to support his assertions. According to the evidence, land blocks 608 and 628 are within the ‘Hazard Line’ defined in the CRZ Notification. There has been increased illegal construction activity in the private lands along the Tapi river embankment without seeking necessary pre-approvals, which poses and great threat to environment and people.

According to the CRZ Notification, any land within the CRZ area requires prior consent from the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority before any permanent building can begin. However, the diamond barons and builders have flagrantly ignored these standards, carrying out their illicit constructions without the requisite permits.

The area along the Tapi River embankment is divided between state and private ownership. While the state government owns roughly 1,200 bighas, private individuals own about 300 bighas. Historically, Bhatha people exploited the swampy areas to raise vegetables. However, the lands were sold to private individuals, who are currently using them for illegal development.

Construction, soil clearance, and other forms of encroachment are all illegal operations that violate environmental laws and government policy. These efforts have altered the Tapi River’s natural flow, increasing the risk of severe flooding during the monsoon season.

These unauthorized constructions pose major threats to the local communities. The changed river route and restricted capacity for precipitation discharge make Bhatha and its surroundings extremely vulnerable to flooding. Residents may suffer property damage, displacement, and even loss of life.

Darshan Nayak stated, “The issue requires a thorough investigation into these illegal activities.” It is critical that the government take prompt action to destroy the unauthorized projects and restore the natural path of the Tapi River, as failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences for the innocent people of Surat.