After the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had “prima facie” found merit in the recommendations of the Chandigarh Administration for declaring an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, Punjab and Haryana Governor-cum-UT Administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki has now written to Punjab and Haryana.

Sources said Solanki, in his letter to Punjab, had suggested considering the suggestions of the ministry, which prime facie had found merit in the recommendations of the UT, and submit these before July 25.

Solanki wrote to Haryana to declare the ESZ as early as possible. The Haryana Raj Bhawan had also attached the note of the ministry along with Solanki’s letter, addressed to both states.

The sources said Solanki was likely to hold a joint meeting of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh over the ESZ.

The Punjab Government had proposed an ESZ within a 100 metre radius around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, whereas the UT Administration wanted it to be at least 1 km or up to 2.5 km. Haryana was yet to propose the radius for the ESZ.

Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, in a recent letter to Solanki, had asked him to raise the matter with the Punjab Government so that adequate area could be notified as the ESZ.

The Union Environment Minister’s letter reads: “The Union Territory of Chandigarh (vide a letter dated July 25, 2014) informed that this limit (Punjab’s limit) of 100 metres is very small, particularly when areas adjoining the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary in Punjab are being developed as high-density areas in Nayagaon. Therefore, the UT recommended UT officials had conveyed to the civic body that under the Smart City Mission, they needed to impose house tax on residential property. The UT officials asked the MC officials to calculate the rate of house tax, sources said.

MC panel had prepared report to hike tax

A special committee of MC officials had even prepared a report to increase the existing rates of house tax by 20 times. 

However, the report was never submitted before the MC general house meeting. In its recent report, the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission had also pulled up the UT Administration and the MC for their failure to revise the house tax rates. 

Camelot may benefit

  • If the ESZ area is reduced to 100 metres, as proposed by Punjab, the Tata Camelot housing project stands a chance to get all clearances, say experts.
  • The Tata project site is a mere 123 metres towards the north and 183 metres on the eastern side of the sanctuary.
  • These are the 2011 findings of a team of the Union Environment Ministry.
  • The Tribune had, through a series of reports, highlighted how the housing project could affect the wildlife sanctuary due to air, noise and water pollution.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh