In what comes as relief for residents of Khuda Alisher, Kaimbwala and Kishangarh villages in the vicinity of Sukhna Lake, the Chandigarh administration has decided to permit regulated construction within the proposed 2-2.75km eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The nod, which is part of the ESZ proposal submitted to the Centre on May 13, is essentially for low-density and low-rise buildings, and thus clears apprehensions about total restriction on construction within the zone. But the final decision on the permissible height and other modalities would be taken after the zone is notified by the union ministry of environment and forests.
It was after much deliberation that the UT decided to identify area ranging from 2km to 2.75km around the sanctuary as ESZ. Of the total catchment area - area from where rainwater flows into the lake -- 29 sq km is in the UT, 10.22 sq km in Haryana and 2.77 under Punjab.
Sources said that one village each of Punjab (Kansal) and Haryana (Saketri) can also hope for similar nods by their governments. Both states, however, plan to submit separate ESZ proposals for the sanctuary periphery falling within their territory.
Till the ESZ notification happens, prohibition of certain activities as already stipulated would remain in force within 10km of the sanctuary. After that, an ESZ management plan would be prepared and objections from the public invited.
SEPARATE PROPOSALS, A VIOLATION
However, showing scant respect to guidelines of the Centre, the UT, Punjab and Haryana have decided to submit separate proposal of ESZ around the Sukhna sanctuary falling in their respective territories.
The guidelines say: "In cases where the boundary of a protected area abuts the boundary of another state/union territory where it does not form part of any protected area, it shall be the endeavour of both the state/UT government to have a mutual consultation and decide upon the width of the ESZ around the protected area in question."
This means that essentially the plan should have been one evolved after discussions.
But the UT submitted its plan on May 13 after taking approval from the administrator, and that too after the union ministry extended the deadline from February 15 to May 15.
The Punjab and Haryana proposals have a day now to meet the deadline.