Shimla, January 18
The 17 “no construction” green belts of the state capital, considered to be the lungs of the town, will be thrown open for the construction of two-and-a-half storeyed residential buildings after around 22 years.
The proposal forms part of the draft Shimla Development Plan, which may be notified anytime. A provision has also been made that the construction will be allowed only on vacant plots with no trees.
The purpose with which the ban was imposed in December 2000 seems to have been achieved, as satellite imagery shows enhancement in green cover in these 17 green belts, spread over 414 hectares.
The move is likely to lead to a spurt in construction activity in these areas, including Jakhu, Benmore, Lakkar Bazaar, Bharari, Sanjauli, Chotta Shimla and Chaura Maidan.
It is also likely to attract criticism from environmentalists and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that imposed a complete ban on all constructions in the core area and allowed only two-and-a-half storeyed buildings in rest of the Shimla Planning Area in November 2017.
In its order on September 30, 2015, the NGT had not just ruled out the possibility of allowing even a partial relaxation in the ban, but had also pulled up the state for not undertaking a study to assess the carrying capacity of Shimla hills.
Considered a decision with an eye on the Assembly poll due later this year, the move could come under the scanner of the courts that have come down heavily on the haphazard and unscientific growth of the not just Shimla, but also other popular tourist towns, including Kasauli, Manali and Dharamsala.
Interestingly, about a decade ago, there was a move to increase the number of green belts within the Shimla Planning Area from 17 to 100. However, the then Draft Shimla Development Plan, prepared after holding several round of consultations with all stakeholders, kept gathering dust and was never approved.
Plan for 100 green areas in cold storage
- Ten years ago, there was a move to increase the number of green belts in the Shimla Planning Area from 17 to 100
- However, the then Draft Shimla Development Plan kept gathering dust and was never approved