press trust of india
MUMBAI, 20 JUNE: Amid raging debate over what caused the Uttarakhand disaster, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan (file photo) today said an eco-sensitive zone plan is in place in the hill state and that the authorities should not compromise with the fragile ecology of the region.
Environmentalists maintained that the flood ravage was a man-made disaster waiting to happen while the administration insisted it was a natural calamity with Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna describing the flash floods as unprecedented caused by a “Himalayan tsunami”.
“As the minister for environment, I feel that it is an ecologically fragile zone and the
eco-sensitive zone proposal needs to remain in place,”
Mrs Natarajan told reporters here.
“The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) headed by the Prime Minister has recommended that there should be an eco-sensitive zone of 130 km, from Gomukh where the Alaknanda begins, to Uttarkashi. The proposal was accepted and draft notification was put in place in 2011. Later, it became a final notification, therefore that notification is in force,” she said.
“At a time like this when so many thousands are stranded (in Uttarakhand), and rescue operations are going on, I think the first priority is rescue and relief, and after that, I believe very strongly that the eco-sensitive zone proposal is vital and important,” she said.
Mrs Natarajan said the Uttarakhand chief minister has a different point of view.
“The Assembly has passed a resolution. The BJP CM before him also had the same point of view. They believe development in Uttarakhand will be affected by this proposal," the minister said.
The Uttarakhand government has demanded the Centre
quash the gazette notification. It feels the notification, when implemented, would cause
misery to the people of the region and bring all developmental activities, including building of border roads, to a grinding halt.

West Bengal govt allots `20 lakh to bring stranded pilgrims home
KOLKATA, 20 JUNE: The West Bengal government released Rs 20 lakhs to bring back stranded pilgrims from Uttarakhand by trains and flights, fire and emergency services and disaster management minister Jawed Khan said today at Writers’ Buildings. He said ailing and elderly passengers would travel to Kolkata by air. sns