Need of the Hour, Nainital Eco-Sensitive Zone
The recent catastrophe which struck Naini Tal was less due to nature,but more owing to unplanned development with the tacit support of the individuals with vested interest. In the prevailing situation it is necessary that Naini Tal should be declared an Eco-Sensitive Zone like Mount Abu, Matheran, Mahbaleshwar and Panchgani
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Government of India, had constituted an Expert Committee to identify the Parameters for Determining the Environmental Sensitivity of Hill Stations, which gave its report in March 2003. The Expert Committee placed Naini Tal in the first list of Hill Stations with Mt. Abu, Mahbaleshwar, Matheran and Panchgani .After this the Conservator of Forests, Naini Tal, sent a proposal/report to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Uttarakhand in March 2007.
Until and unless the State Government sends the proposal to the Central Government and a notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, is issued, Naini Tal cannot be declared an Eco-Sensitive zone. Naini Tal has crossed its Carrying Capacity much earlier and the same has been informed by the Naini Tal Lake Region Special Area Development Authority, vide its letter dated 28-06-2012, and has recommended complete ban on construction activities.
Once Naini Tal is declared an Eco-Sensitive Zone the town will be relieved from the shackles of the political interventions. Within two years of publication of notification, a Zonal Master Plan will be prepared by the State Government with due involvement of all the concerned departments and experts in various fields and submitted for approval to the MOEF, Government of India, by considering the environmental and other important issues like ecologically sensitive areas, hazard zones, drainage channels, steep slopes, and heritage sites, both natural and man-made.
The Zonal Master Plan shall provide for restoration of denuded areas, management of catchment areas, watershed management, groundwater management, soil and moisture conservation, provision for fuel wood, needs of local community, conservation of heritage sites and their environs, noise pollution and such other aspects of ecology and environment that need attention. Until the Master Plan is prepared all building activities except repairs shall be stopped.
Those hill stations which have been declared as Eco-Sensitive Zones the situation has improved drastically. If Naini Tal has to be saved from ecological doom then Eco-Sensitive Zone is the last option for which we will to struggle hard.
Source : – Dr. Ajay Rawat