Other States

Construction banned near Uttarakhand glaciers

Taking notice of the degradation in the Himalayan ecology and environment, the Uttarakhand High Court, on Monday, directed the government to take steps to preserve the Hill State’s glaciers.

Uttarakhand has 968 glaciers spread across an area of 2,857 sq.km. In view of the rapidly melting Uttarakhand glaciers, which are a source of major rivers including the Ganga and the Yamuna, the Division Bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma, took cognisance of the rapid reduction in snow cover due to climate change and the melting of glaciers. The Bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by Tara Singh Rajput on encroachment and illegal construction around various water bodies including the Nainital lake,

In the Order, the Court directed that no new permanent constructions must come up within a 25 kilometre radius from the “edges” of all the glaciers across the State.

The court also passed orders restricting the burning of fossil fuels within a 10 kilometre radius of the “edges of glaciers”.

“The State Government is directed to provide the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Kerosene Oil, in abundance, to the people living in these areas to mitigate their hardships by involving Oil Companies,” the Order stated.

The Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand must be the authority to issue “limited passes” for persons visiting the glaciers. The State government could also impose a cess in the form of “Glacier Tax” on persons visiting places in the vicinity of the glaciers, the Order stated.

Plastic ban

The Court Order also prohibits the use of plastic, in all forms, within a 20 kilometre radius of glaciers. Also, the State administration is directed to put up stations 20 kilometres from each glacier to ensure the enforcement of the Court directions.

However, the Army and the paramilitary forces shall be permitted to set up infrastructures but they too must consider the environment of the area before undertaking constructions of any kind.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 3:26:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Construction-banned-near-Uttarakhand-glaciers/article16439343.ece

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