Shimla, March 19
Academicians and researchers from India and abroad have sought the withdrawal of the Draft Shimla Development Plan (SDP) because they have apprehensions that it will have an adverse impact on the city.
Over 24 researchers and members of an independent group of teachers have urged the Himachal Government to redraw the document, considering the already high construction density of Shimla. “Any planning activity that is unmindful of environmental and climatic hazards is therefore fraught with considerable risk,” they have stated in the objections to the SDP filed before the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Department.
Construction density already high
- Over 24 researchers and members of an independent group of teachers have urged the government to redraw the SDP document, considering the already high construction density of Shimla.
- The TCP Department had notified the Draft SDP in January, inviting objections and suggestions before the plan was placed before the Cabinet for approval.
The TCP Department had notified the Draft SDP in January, inviting objections and suggestions before the plan was placed before the Cabinet for approval. The city has so far been expanding on the basis of the 1979 Interim Development Plan (IDP) and past efforts to have a proper development plan have failed to fructify.
Teachers from universities and research institutions in different parts of the country and abroad, who are working on environmental and climate-related issues, have expressed apprehensions that the SDP does not addresses a majority of the concerns expressed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its order of November 2017. The teachers from Framingham State University, USA, Wolfsan College, Oxford, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and several other institutes in Delhi and other places have together filed the objections.
“Therefore, mindful of the considerable dangers stemming from unplanned construction and deforestation and the fact that the NGT has restrained many of these activities, we suggest the government that the draft development plan needs to take into account these concerns,” they said.
They stated that the NGT in its order had pointed out risks associated with deforestation, rampant construction, especially the risk of landslides and considerable loss of life and property. An expert committee set up by the NGT had warned that Shimla is in the high earthquake and landslide-prone zone, they added.
“Since the region also faces the risk of extreme rainfall events, which are becoming more likely and frequent in an era of climate change, there is the threat of hazardous landslides with the likelihood of damage to life and property. It being one of the most densely populated areas in the western Himalayas, which already has a high construction density, all construction activities have to be planned,” they stated.
The academicians stressed the need for conserving extremely valuable Deodar forests in many green belts in and around the urban boundaries of Shimla. “These resources are not easily regenerated and therefore decisions that can have an adverse impact on these green belts should be taken with extreme caution and in strict compliance with the law,” they warned.
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