Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 23
The UT Administration has decided to declare Sukhna Lake, comprising 565 acres, a wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, and the catchment area falling within its jurisdiction a “zone of influence”.
With this decision, all construction activities in the wetland area falling in Punjab and the UT will be regulated by the respective governments.
The proposal was approved during the second meeting of the Union Territory of Chandigarh Wetlands Authority today. The meeting was chaired by VP Singh Badnore, Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator, at the Punjab Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh.
While the UT will notify the area falling under its jurisdiction, the governments of Haryana and Punjab will notify the catchment areas falling within their administrative boundary to regulate activities under the Act for maintaining proper health of the Sukhna wetland.
The Administration will issue a draft notification and invite objections from the public before issuing the final notification for the wetland.
The Sukhna wetland is an important wintering ground for migratory birds. Every year, thousands of migratory birds visit this wetland from November to March. The Sukhna catchment area has a large number of water holes, grazing grounds and good plantations, which provide an ideal habitat for the wildlife. The catchment area has rich floral diversity and 40 tree species.
Badnore urged Punjab and Haryana to join hands with the UT Administration to conserve Sukhna Lake since Haryana and Punjab were also the beneficiaries.
Debendra Dalai, Chief Conservator of Forests, made a detailed presentation on the ecological role of the wetland.
The activities proposed to be prohibited, regulated and promoted, as recommended by the technical committee, were unanimously agreed to by all members.
Setting up of saw mills, commercial use of firewood, new wood-based industry, hunting and release of untreated waste water (not meeting the desired environmental standards) will be prohibited in the catchment area while all types of construction activity and land use change will have to be regulated by the authorities. Once the notification is issued, no illegal construction will be allowed in villages falling in the catchment area.
Wetland spread over 565 acres
The area of the Sukhna wetland spreads over 565 acres, while its catchment area spreads over 10,395 acres. Of this, 2,525 acres fall in Haryana and 684 acres in Punjab.
Activities prohibited in wetland
- Commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units
- Setting up of industries causing water, air, soil or noise pollution and expansion of existing industries
- Use or production and handling or storage/disposal of hazardous substances
- Commercial water resources, including groundwater harvesting
- No permanent construction except for boat jetties shall be allowed within 50 metres from the mean high flood level
- Feeding of fish and migratory birds, release of any invasive species such as duck, bird, turtles by the public
- Solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries
- Commercial establishment of hotels and resorts. No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted and the existing ones shall be maintained
- Electrical and telecommunication towers, high tension transmission lines
- Eco-tourism activity, felling of trees, use of plastic carry bags
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