The cabinet has approved the proposal to remove a number of villages from the eco sensitive zones of Gangotri national park and Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary. Further, the state will now have an environment ministry. It will consist of a directorate, pollution control board, biodiversity board and state environment impact assessment committee. These and various other decisions were taken in the meeting of the cabinet held at the chief minister’s residence here on Tuesday.
Addressing the media after the cabinet meeting held in the chief minister’s residence here on Tuesday, cabinet minister and State Government spokesman Madan Kaushik said that a total of 21 issues were taken up in the cabinet meeting out of which decisions were taken on 19 issues. He informed that the cabinet had approved the proposal to remove a number of villages from the eco-sensitive zones of Gangotri national park and Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary. After the cabinet approval, this proposal will now be sent to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for final approval after which a notification will be issued. Twenty eight activities prohibited in eco sensitive zone will be allowed in the villages brought out of the zone.
The residents of villages near Gangotri national park and Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary falling within the eco-sensitive zone had been objecting to this. In the past, the forest department had sent such proposals to the ministry without the state cabinet’s approval and these had been rejected by the ministry. The cabinet has decided that proposals related to eco-sensitive zones will be sent to the centre only after the state cabinet’s approval. Though the minister did not clarify how many villages around Gangotri national park will be brought out of the eco-sensitive zone, it was stated that out of five village in the eco-sensitive zone around Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary, the residents of Kithaur and Bakliyal villages have agreed to remain within the zone while Danda, Kathauli Malli and Betlad will be removed from the zone. Kaushik further informed that the state will now have an environment ministry, which at the state administration level will consist of an environment directorate, pollution control board, biodiversity board, state environmental impact assessment authority and state environmental impact assessment committee. There will be 17 posts in the directorate which will be headed by a director who will be an officer of an all India service.
In addition to this, the cabinet also approved a Rs 975 crore World Bank funded potable water scheme for 35 semi-urban areas in seven of the state’s districts. Amendments were also approved in the Uttarakhand motor vehicle rules to raise the minimum bid amount for most sought after license plate numbers like 001 and 786 to Rs one lakh while the minimum bid for numbers like 11, 22, 33, 44 and so on will be Rs 25,000. Considering the sugar cane farmers’ dues and difference between sugar cane production and its crushing, the cabinet also decided to encourage Khandsari (traditional unprocessed sugar) and jaggery units as an alternative to increase the consumption of sugar cane and reduce the dependence of the farmers of sugar mills. Kaushik said that the cabinet decision will increase sugar cane crushing and help clear the dues. The cabinet also approved adopt a heritage policy.