Punjab, Haryana mother on ESZ around shrine: News Kidda

Tribune News Service

Dushyant Singh Pundiru

Chandigarh, August 6

Even after the issue was discussed at a Northern Zonal Council (NZC) meeting in Jaipur last month, Punjab and Haryana are still required to declare eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary in their respective territories.

Why it must be declared soon?

  • More infringements, illegal constructions can take place
  • To preserve the greenery around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary
Cyclists in the area behind Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh. File

The UT administration took up the issue of declaring the ESZ around the shrine at the meeting of the NZC, which consists of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory, Delhi; and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, held in Jaipur under the presidency of Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on July 9.

UT advisor Dharam Pal said the issue of ESZ around the shrine was raised during the meeting. They had also written to the Ministry of Interior (MHA) to speed up the process of notifying the ESZ around the shrine about the area that has fallen into Punjab and Haryana.

Earlier, the government had also raised the issue with the Center and the governments of Haryana and Punjab for the statement of the ESZ at the earliest. If the ESZ declaration were further delayed, more infringements and illegal constructions could take place and it would be difficult to remove them, according to a senior UT official. It was important to inform the ESZ as early as possible to preserve the greenery around the reserve. The UT administration has insisted on the statement of the ESZ by Punjab and Haryana after it declared the area of ​​2 km-2.75 km from the boundary of the sanctuary as the sensitive zone. It had opposed a proposal by the Punjab government to declare only 100 m from the boundary of the sanctuary as the ESZ on its side. However, the government of Haryana had recently planned to declare an area of ​​1 to 1.5 km in its territory as an ESZ.

On September 17, 2015, the Ministry of Forests and Environment had issued a draft notice for the reserve area covered by Chandigarh, and not for the areas covered by Punjab and Haryana. The UT administration had urged the ministry to report to the entire ESZ to protect the sanctuary, of which 90 percent of the area fell in Punjab and Haryana. However, on January 25, 2017, the ministry had only declared ESZ for Chandigarh.

The lake was declared a wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, to preserve its original character. Reporting as the ESZ is a step further, as it would ensure that no hotel, commercial buildings, cinema halls, shopping malls or other structures come within a 7-8 km radius of Lake Sukhna.

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