Dushyant Singh Pundir
Chandigarh, August 6
Even after the issue having been taken up at a meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) in Jaipur last month, Punjab and Haryana are still to declare eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary in their respective territories.
Why it should be declared soon
- More encroachments, illegal constructions could take place
- To preserve greenery around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary
The UT Administration took up the issue of declaring the ESZ around the sanctuary at the meeting of the NZC, which comprises Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory, Delhi; and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, held in Jaipur under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on July 9.
UT Adviser Dharam Pal said the issue of ESZ around the sanctuary was raised at the meeting. They had also written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to speed up the process to notify the ESZ around the sanctuary for the area that fell in Punjab and Haryana.
Earlier also, the administration had raised the issue with the Centre and the Haryana and Punjab governments for the declaration of the ESZ at the earliest. If the declaration of the ESZ was delayed further, more encroachments and illegal constructions could take place and then it would be difficult to remove them, said a senior UT official. It was important to notify the ESZ as early as possible to preserve greenery around the sanctuary. The UT Administration has been pushing for the declaration 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 of the Punjab Government to declare only 100 m from the boundary of the sanctuary as the ESZ on its side. However, the Haryana Government had recently intended to declare 1 km-1.5 km area in its territory as the ESZ.
On September 17, 2015, the Ministry of Forest and Environment had issued a draft notification for the sanctuary area that fell in Chandigarh, and not for the areas that came under Punjab and Haryana. The UT Administration had urged the ministry to issue a notification for the entire ESZ to protect the sanctuary, 90 per cent area of which fell in Punjab and Haryana. However, on January 25, 2017, the ministry had declared ESZ only for Chandigarh.
The lake had been notified as wetland under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, to preserve its original character. Notifying it as the ESZ is a step further, since this would ensure that no hotel, commercial buildings, cinema halls, malls or any other construction come up within a radius of 7-8 km of the Sukhna Lake.
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