Illegal construction continues to ravage Naini Lake's water levels
Due to illegal construction the water level of Naini lake at Nainital has gone down and the recharge of groundwater is being affected amid growing global concerns for climate change
Illegal construction has caused the water level of Naini lake to go down and the recharge of groundwater is being affected.
Surrounded by panoramic hills, Nainital lake is a favourite spot for tourists. It is one of the most visited lakes in India. However, illegal construction is rampant in the catchment area of the lake. The construction continues to impact the water level and has recently even led to landslides.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had sought a report from the Uttarakhand State Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate, Nainital, and Secretary, Urban Development after a plea was filed in 2019.
It was noted that similar issues are pending before the Uttarakhand High Court already. The public interest litigation was filed keeping in mind the encroachments and illegal construction in the submerged area of Sukhatal Lake, as well as encroachments and illegal construction elsewhere in Nainital.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on preserving Sukhatal in July this year, the Uttarakhand HC directed the state government to stop all construction activities on the bed of a lake in Nainital and all encroachments in the area were ordered to be removed.
A Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice RC Khulbe issued notices to the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority and the State Wetlands Management Authority.
The court had said: "Any unauthorised construction which is already there, the Lake Development Authority is given instructions to give notices to the occupants of these unauthorized premises so that such structures be removed in accordance with the law."
“The administration would have removed the encroachments by now had they been from the poorer sections of the society,” the division bench also noted.
However, illegal construction continues to ravage the water bed of the Naini lake.
In view of the recently filed petition by Friends, an environmental organisation and activist Sushil Raghav, the NGT said: "The authorities are bound to comply with the directions of the High Court on the subject and in case of violations, the aggrieved party can take remedies in accordance with the law."
The NGT recently granted a month's time to the Pollution Control Board (PCB), Uttarakhand along with other government officials to submit a response on unauthorised cutting of trees in the forest area adjacent to Nainital city.
According to the order, the applicant had submitted that some of the trees belonged to the endangered species. On September 1, the NGT had constituted a Joint Committee and directed it to submit a factual and action-taken report within two months. Pursuant to the direction, Uttarakhand PCB's Assistant Section Officer Dr Rajendra Singh had sent a report of the Joint Committee on October 31.
"In view of the averments in the application and observations in the report of the Joint Committee, we consider it appropriate to have the response of the State of Uttarakhand through the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and Forest, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, Divisional Commissioner, Kumaon, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Commissioner, Nainital Municipality and Uttarakhand PCB who stand impleaded as respondents No. 1 to 7," the order stated.
Looking at the significant nature and impact of the environmental violations involved, the NGT also appointed Senior Advocate Akash Vashishtha as amicus curiae to assist this Tribunal. The matter will now be heard before the Uttarakhand HC on February 3, 2023.
With inputs from IANS
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