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Green concern, NGT says Kufri being weighed down by horses

Issues notice to state govt

Green concern, NGT says Kufri being weighed down by horses

Tourists enjoy horse riding at Kufri in Shimla. File Photo



Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 26

A four-member committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has noticed damage to the environment and natural vegetation at Kufri mainly due to the large number of horses operating in the area for riding activity.

“The mule/pony ride activity is emerging as a distinct driver of degradation and such anthropogenic pressures are reducing both the quantity and quality of the local forest around Kufri,” the committee noted in the report it has submitted to the NGT.

Committee’s recommendations

  • The horse riding activity needs to be regulated as per the guidelines of MoEF & CC as the area of operation is Reserve Forest
  • The role of the Forest Dept in checking/managing the affairs has been found almost negligible
  • Registration of new horses may be restricted by SADA, Kufri, till the adjoining forest area of the mule path is revived by the Forest Dept

It has been pointed out that over thousand horses (1029) operate in a small area, which is beyond the carrying capacity of the site. The committee has recommended that the horse riding activity be regulated as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC). Further, it said that 200-217 horses could be allowed per day for riding activity as per the carrying capacity of the area.

The NGT has issued notice to the MoEF & CC and the state government for their response to the report. The NGT has given a month’s time for filing the response, and has listed the matter for further consideration for July 12. The NGT had formed the four-member committee in March to apprise it of the factual position after entertaining an application claiming degradation of the environment at Kufri.

While noting that the livelihood of thousands of people of the adjoining panchayats depends on horses and other tourism activities, the report says unregulated movement of horses has not only damaged the ecology of the path/trail used for horse riding, but has also damaged the green areas in and around the area.

“Further, it has been found that certain assets in the form of temporary shops, parking for vehicles, halting points for horses and other related activities have been created and the legalities need to be verified,” the committee noted.

“The horse trails have several impacts on vegetation and soil that include damage to native vegetation, soil erosion, exposure of roots, etc. The plant damage includes reduction in vegetation height and biomass, changes in species composition and the spread of exotic weeds and plant pathogens,” the committee said.

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#Environment #kufri #National Green Tribunal NGT #Shimla


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