M A I N   N E W S

‘Save Sukhna’ project yet to take off
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Union territory has sought Rs 73.51 crore to initiate conservation of the Sukhna Lake. But partly because of its failure to furnish details of the conservation project it plans to undertake, the money is yet to be made available to it.

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was informed on Thursday that the plea for the grant had been made to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, which sent it back with the advice that the UT Administration should seek the grant from the Union Home Ministry.

When the request was sent back to the Environment ministry, it again refused to consider it and advised the Union territory to seek the grants from the Union Ministry of Urban Affairs. An Additional Director in the Ministry of Environment and Forests informed the court that since the UT had failed to provide the necessary details, even the administrative approval of the project has not been given yet.

Following the hearing, the Bench directed Haryana government to file an affidavit and declare within a month if housing colonies are being set up in the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake.

Acting Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Augustine George Masih also directed the Union territory Administration to inform the court the outcome of steps it had proposed a year ago to conserve the Lake and the condition of the “leaking” floodgates. The Bench fixed February 22 as the next date of hearing and indicated that it would be monitoring the conservation project.

Directing both Haryana and UT to ensure a continuous flow of water into the reservoir, the Bench asserted that the prime issue before the court was the depletion of the water-level in the lake and measures to restore it to the earlier level.

As many as five steps were mentioned to the court in February last year in an affidavit filed by a Superintending Engineer. But even after a year, there is no clarity before the court on the outcome.

While the Bench observed that siltation was possibly the principal reason for depletion of the water-level, the amicus curiae ( friend of the court) Tanu Bedi maintained that partial breakdown of the floodgates had caused the water-level to go down. She also produced clippings of reports in The Tribune about housing colonies coming up in the catchment area. She also asserted that the Tata’s Camelot project would also affect the fragile catchment area of the lake.

Observing that the counsel for Haryana and the Senior Standing Counsel of the UT Administration were both committed to “maintain the glory and the beauty of the lake”, the Bench allowed them time to obtain necessary instructions and get more details.





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