Even as water resources minister Uma Bharti starts her campaign from Gangotri to clean Ganga, the environment ministry is considering changes in the 4,000 sq km eco-sensitive zone to conserve the pristine ecology in the upper reaches of the national river.
Both the incumbent Congress government and the opposition BJP has demanded that the ministry should scrap its notification declaring area around 135 km of the river in upper reaches of Uttarakhand as an eco-sensitive zone.
The notification was issued in December 2012 and had issued guidelines for new construction including hotels and resorts and asked the state government to develop master plans for development work in the 4,000 sq km area.
As the state political class was against the green notification, they organised protest of locals in the area saying the notification will put an end to all developmental activity in the region.
It has gained momentum and now the locals are on a daily protest mode in the region.
The protest over the eco-sensitive zone notification has united Congress and the BJP who are unanimous that the new rules would hamper development in the region.
The local environmental activists, however, disagree.
The Uttarakhand cabinet at its recent meeting chaired by chief minister Harish Rawat had passed a resolution asking the environment ministry to scrap the ecological sensitive area notification and said that it was issued without proper consultation with locals and does not take into account their daily needs.
“We have passed the cabinet resolution as no developmental work can be carried out in the region because of the notification,” a senior Uttarakhand government official said.
Meanwhile, the environment ministry has constituted a committee headed by Vinod Tare of IIT-Kanpur to examine whether six hydro power projects can be allowed in upper reaches of Uttarakhand after some design alternation.