Editorial Input: Lulua Ahsan
Continuing with the efforts to establish facts and garner perpective of the people of Udaipur about the Neemch Mata Ropeway, Sohail Khan of Udaipur Times interviewed local activist Shanti Lal Mehta who has earlier filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court, opposing the Neemach Mata Ropeway project.
Shanti Lal Mehta is a retired SIERT employee from Udaipur. When asked about his views on the Neemach Mata Ropeway Project, he replied with disappointment, “I’m totally against this project because Neemach Mata Temple is our place of worship and at no cost should it be converted into a tourist hotspot for commercial gains.”
Mehta lamented that despite his numerous complaints to the relevant authorities, the ropeway construction work didn’t stop, which forced him to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court, which was eventually dismissed.
He has also written several letters to the forest department to help him stop the project as he believes this project will destroy the wild flora and fauna surrounding the hill, but he has received very disappointing replies from the department officials.
He added, “I’m a resident of Udaipur and I’ve been going to Neemach Mata temple regularly, I see large number of peacocks on the hill and the area around the temple, but sadly the forest department officials refused to acknowledge there are peacocks and other wild animals and birds present in the area.”
Shanti Lal Mehta raised concern over the cutting of the trees, which will lead to the destruction of the fragile ecosystem. He informed that many complaints were lodged on this matter with the Ambamata police station but no action was ever taken.
In addition to the dissatisfaction regarding the ropeway, he also expressed his disapproval about the construction of a new parking lot near Lake Fatehsagar. Questioning the concerned authorities, he said, “Why the land near Fatehsagar lake, which originally belonged to SIERT was sold by the UIT at DLC rates to a private company? The valuation of the land should have been done as per the current market rate and that money should have been used for the betterment of the society. This wrongful selling of the land has only benefited the private company. This land belongs to the education department so why is it being used for commercial purposes?”
Shanti Lal emphasised, “Earlier when SIERT wanted to construct a women’s hostel on this land, UIT dismissed their application saying that this land comes under the no construction zone near the lake. The hostel was then built close to the Neemach Mata’s foothill. Later the parking lot was built on this same land. Why?” He alleged that he suspects some foul play.
Udaipur Times will continue to publish the opinions of Udaipur residents on the NMRP to raise public awareness. We need more people to come forward to help protect the nature. Threats like climate change and deforestation are accelerating faster than ever before in history. Humanity must rise to meet that threat.