Navi Mumbai: Responding to environmentalists’ suggestion for a Central Hill Regulation Authority in the backdrop of the Joshimath crisis, the Prime Minister’s Office has referred the demand to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC).
Raising concerns over landslides and cracks at Joshimath, Navi Mumbai based-NGO NatConnect Foundation has called for a Hill Regulation Authority, on the lines of the Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ), with respective State units to check indiscriminate damage to mountains across the country.
BN Kumar says in his representation to President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The Joshimath episode is akin to the tip of an iceberg as the rampant destruction of hills in the name of development in various parts of the country, including the Northeast and Andaman Nicobar Islands, can lead to many more disasters of Himalayan scale.”
The PMO in their status report said that the demand has been referred to Rajendra Singh Bora, Under Secretary in the MOEFCC.
In the email which was also marked to the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, Kumar drew their attention to repeated incidents of landslides in Mumbai and elsewhere which are nature’s warnings against playing with the hills and hill slopes.
NatConnect pointed out that nobody seems to have ownership over the hills. The Forest Department allows diversion – meaning destruction – for infrastructure or housing projects, the revenue department is concerned with the collection of royalty from hill digging or quarrying and the Environment department merely passes the buck.
“There is a tendency to run down environmental concerns as anti-development,” Kumar regretted and called for a serious look at the impact of infrastructure projects on nature and lives.