Wetland regulations openly violated as construction in ecologically sensitive zones in Udaipur continues

Wetland regulations openly violated as construction in ecologically sensitive zones in Udaipur continues

Burnt Shells and Boxes of expensive Firework have been recovered from the lake beds in Udaipur.

In an interaction with local media, lake conservationist Kunal Rawal said that shells and boxes of expensive kinds of firework have been recovered from the bed of lakes in Udaipur. These lakes are surrounded by hotels and resorts, which have been hosting marriages and other functions over decades in Udaipur.

This aspect, said Kunal, raises concerns on how the rules have been violated by residents of Udaipur as well as the administration. The guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court are being openly violated in the city of lakes, said Dr. Anil Mehta, the Joint Secretary of the Lake Conservation Society in Udaipur, and Principal of ther Vidhya Bhawan Polytechnic, Udaipur.

Dr. Mehta, who has been a long time lake conversationist, in a dialog organised at Fatehsagar lake, he has raised his voice over the violation of laws related to lake conservation and regulations in eco-sensitive zones while at the same time expressed his appreciation over the Central Government presenting Udaipur as candidate for being designated as a Ramsar Wetland City. His appreciation comes with a caveat, wherein while this support will benefit environment, water resources as well as tourism in Udaipur, the gross neglect and violation of the regulations related to wetland conservation will gradually destroy the natural ecosystem of Udaipur. While the Central Government is delaring the ecologically important lakes of Udaipur as international level wetlands, Dr. Mehta said that according to Provision Four (IV) of the Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, there is a deliberate delay in determining the Zone of Influence of Badi, Fatehsagar, Pichola, Goverdhan Sagar and Udaisagar lakes of Udaipur so that commercial constructions can benefit.

Mehta said that despite the ban imposed in 2017 in Sajjangarh Eco Sensitive Zone, hotels and resorts have been constructed on a large scale in the last five years. This is unfortunate, he added.

In August 2023, a significant NGT ruling declared Fatehsagar along with its surroundings as one of the eco sensitive zones subject to provisions of the ESZ notification and wetland rules.

Another member of the Lake Conservation Society, Tej Shankar Paliwal, said that as per wetland provisions, control of noise pollution and light pollution around the lakes is necessary for the protection of the entire lake ecosystem. Despite clear instructions in this regard from the NGT and the Supreme Court, fireworks are being set off in the middle of the lake and on the shores, which is serious threat to the life of native migratory birds and fishes.

Nand Kishore Sharma said that construction of permanent nature at a distance of fifty meters from the average level of the highest filling level (HFL) of the lakes harms the ecology of the lake, but many constructions have taken place around lakes. Despite being an important wetland, the discharge of all types of waste including feces and urine into the lakes has not been controlled. Lake lover Drupad Singh added that there is a huge amount of garbage and filth being discharged on Mastan Baba Colony Road in front of Sanjay Park in Fatehsagar area. There is a huge garbage dumping yard at the entrance of the colony. All this garbage and filth ends up in Fatehsagar itself, which is a violation of wetland rules.

The effect of NGT ruling on areas around Fatehsagar

This ruling ensures that the lakes of Udaipur, viz. Pichhola, Badi, Fatehsagar, Swaroop Sagar, Jaisamand and Udaisagar will be protected u/Section 4 of the Wetland Conservation Rules.  Stringent regulations will be applied to prevent permanent constructions within fifty meters from the higest flood level (HFL) of the lake. No encroachments or non water body land changes will be permitted in the impact zone, including in the lake. Illegal poaching, disposal of solid, electronic and liquid waste in these lakes and around these lakes is also prohibited. The bench has also instructed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Science and Technology to conduct necessary research and develope regulations to control this kind of pollution. November 15, 2023 had been set as the deadline for the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, the Udaipur District Collector and Udaipur Municipal Corporation to submite compliance reports to the NGT Central Zone, ensuring compliance to the ruling.

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