EN­VI­RON­MENT AND LO­CAL CON­CERNS

HT Estates - - HTESTATES -

The fast pace of realty ex­pan­sion in the hill tracts of the Solan dis­trict and ad­ja­cent ar­eas have raised con­cerns (among the lo­cals) about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. While lo­cals wel­come de­vel­op­ment in the area, they are also clear that it should not be at the cost of the area’s pris­tine beauty and en­vi­ron­ment. An en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, Lt Gen Ka­mal Davar (retd), who is a mem­ber of the executive com­mit­tee of SPOKE (So­ci­ety for Pro­tec­tion of Kasauli En­vi­ron­ment), a Kasauli-based en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion, says, “There are en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws and rules in place, which have also been sanc­ti­fied by the ju­di­ciary in var­i­ous judge­ments. The state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments must en­sure that th­ese plans, laws and rules are strictly ad­hered to by all the stake­hold­ers of the re­gion. The gov­ern­ment should be ever con­scious about the en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion in the re­gion be­fore giv­ing li­censes to de­vel­op­ers. Ur­ban­i­sa­tion should not be at the cost of her­itage and en­vi­ron­ment. Al­ready, the approach roads to Kasauli are wit­ness­ing the mush­room­ing of ho­tels, restau­rants and cot­tages. Such de­vel­op­ments should be bet­ter reg­u­lated.”

While the big­ger de­vel­op­ers from out­side the state (who have lim­ited in­ter­est in the en­vi­ron­ment) are quickly se­cur­ing gov­ern­ment ap­provals for con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity the lo­cal de­vel­op­ers who have high stakes in pre­serv­ing the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and her­itage are be­ing left out in the de­vel­op­ment process. Varun Ag­gar­wal of Kasauli Con­struc­tions Pvt Ltd, says, “The de­mand po­ten­tial in the re­gion is very strong. We have buy­ers com­ing from all over the re­gion - Pun­jab, Haryana, and Delhi. There is strong in­ter­est in buy­ing a cot­tage or a hol­i­day home here. How­ever, the gov­ern­ment pol­icy is very un­sta­ble, which is dis­cour­ag­ing buy­ers from out­side the state to buy prop­er­ties here. While the gov­ern­ment’s li­cens­ing pol­icy has made it eas­ier for the big­ger na­tional level de­vel­op­ers to sell their prod­ucts, the con­di­tions of the smaller lo­cal builders are fairly tough. A non- Hi­machali domi­cile buyer needs to take gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion under the Section 118 of the HP Land Re­forms and Ten­ancy Act, 1972. For in­di­vid­ual buy­ers this process has be­come very strin­gent in the past cou­ple of years.”

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