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Encroachment to be removed from Asta Sakhi kund after a 16 year battle

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Construction at Asta Sakhi Kund← Construction at Asta Sakhi Kund

Radha Kund, 2018.08.07

The Deputy Commissioner has issued a directive to remove encroachments from around Asta Sakhi kund within 10 days. The order comes after several court cases spanning 16 years, during which, further construction went on in the area surrounding the kund.

Despite receiving the order to remove illegal buildings from around the kunds in 2002, local authorities did not take action. At this time, environmentalist lawyer M C Mehta prepared a detailed report alleging a nexus between a ‘land mafia’ including powerful builders in league with local authorities.

In the report, Mehta also alleged that 500 year old kunds had been filled with sand so that buildings could be constructed on top of them. All of these kunds have significance in Krishna Lila, but, due to lack of care, many kunds in Braj have been covered over.

As well as highlighting the religious significance of the kunds, the environmentalist lawyer also drew attention to the ecological imbalance that happens when people cover kunds. Kunds are an important natural means of rainwater harvesting and having an open area around the kunds helps to prevent flooding as well as providing a place for pilgrims to gather.

During the hearing, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) agreed that some of the kunds are over 300 years old. The ASI said that Asta Sakhi kund is the only remaining example of medieval kund construction techniques and should be preserved.

When action was not taken to preserve the kund and surrounding area, the case was again brought before the Supreme Court in 2012, but, once again, despite promises, comprehensive action was not taken to remove the illegal constructions.

According to Radha Kund residents, Asta Sakhi kund was developed by the King of Avagadh, Suryapal Singh. There was a 9 acre reserve around the kund, but in 1980, this reserve was divided into plots for housing. Radha Kund resident, Mahendra Goswami was one of the people involved in making the complaint to authorities about the illegal constructions in the 80’s. Goswami said that in the year 2000, when MC Mehta filed the case in the Supreme Court, there were 72 houses in the area. Now there are over 300 houses.

Frustrated at the lack of action taken by local authorities to enforce the Supreme Court order, two months ago, local residents brought the case before the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT issued a directive that the court order must be enforced immediately.

Last week, Deputy Commissioner,  K. Ram Mohan Rao, gave an order to District Magistrate Savagyaram Mishra stating that action must be taken to remove encroachments within 10 days.

The Asta Sakhis are the eight leaders of all the other gopis. They always serve Radha and try to please her in every way. They are the dearest and most beloved friends of Srimati Radharani. Rupa Gosvami describes the qualities of these eight main gopis in Radha Krishna Ganodesa Dipika.

1. Lalita Sakhi
2. Visakha Sakhi
3. Campakalata Sakhi
4. Citra Sakhi
5. Tungavidya Sakhi
6. Indulekha Sakhi
7. Rangadevi Sakhi
8. Sudevi Sakhi

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