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Monday, September 27, 2021

Sukhna wildlife Sanctuary: UT issues notice to resort for illegal construction in sensitive zone

Following the discovery, Deputy Conservator of Forests sent a notice to Forest Hill Golf & Country Club Resort, which is located at Karoran village near Punjab Engineering College, Mohali.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
August 8, 2021 5:13:01 am
poultry birds culling, H5N8 virus, poultry birds vaccination, Poultry experts on culling, Chandigarh news, Haryana news, Indian express newsA signboard at Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh. (Express photo)

The Department of Forests and Widlife, Chandigarh administration, recently discovered illegal construction in the Eco-sensitive zone of Sukhna wildlife sanctuary by the Forest Hill Golf and Country Club resort.

Following the discovery, Deputy Conservator of Forests sent a notice to Forest Hill Golf & Country Club Resort, which is located at Karoran village near Punjab Engineering College, Mohali.

The forest department had received a complaint from Shekhar Jindal, an environmentalist regarding “illegal activities and attempt to commit encroachment relating to the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary”, following which the officials from the department visited the site on May 30.

The officials found a resort in the name of “Forest Hill Resort” and further found that a road was being constructed towards Khana Ka Bahra village, well within the limits of Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of the SWS.

“Further, on June 4, the undersigned along with other officials of the Department also visited the forest/sanctuary area and during the inspection it was found that most of the land near the ridges of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary boundary (towards Punjab) belongs to you in which you have developed a track (Kacha path) adjoining and parallel to the boundary of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also revealed from the report that this track is being used by you and your employees for going to “Forest Hill Resort” and for touring the area,” stated the notice.

The official said that tractors and other equipment are rampantly used in this area as evident on the ground.

“However, the movements of your employees by using tractors and other equipment near the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary disturbs and creates nuisance for birds and wildlife living therein. Further, Shivalik Hills is an ecologically fragile area and this type of non-forestry activity without valid permission will ruthlessly destroy the abiotic component along with the innumerable fauna and flora,” the notice added.

“It is further highlighted that attempts of encroachment have also been made at the boundary of SWS, Chandigarh Range as found during field visit. Further due to the construction of Kacha path/road by you near the boundary, there is every chance of encroachment in near future in SWS. There is also the possibility of breaking forest contiguity, impinge on forest and well -worm migratory paths of animals, break tree cover and canopy, slice vegetation all of which can gravely impact the wildlife population,” it further said.

It was also that use of machinery may cause soil erosion and landslides. “It is also mentioned here that crucially, construction of roads/kacha path are the first step to ancillary development and an increasing human footprint in the area near to or at the boundary of SWS, thus, leading to accelerated development, fire incident, tourist (As noticed during field inspection) and Wildlife hunting pressures, increase in pollution, litter and various disturbances. Unless great vigilance and checkers are provided, this road/kacha path provide conduits for illegal extraction of timber and forest produce and for poaching, particularly at night, from Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary area. It is very difficult to provide the requisite surveillance of your illegal activities at every moment,” the communique stated.

The department of wildlife said that the land in question is a part of ESZ of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary and if not stopped, it will lead to deterioration of wildlife habitat, encroachment, and other environment deteriorating activities.

Upon inspection, it was also found that a “number of times, there were fire incidents near the boundary of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandigarh Range which also intrudes into the Sanctuary…which poses a major challenge for forest protection.”

The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary came into existence in March 1998 under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, with the aim of guarding Chandigarh’s iconic Sukhna Lake and its catchment area, that is home to dense forest and wide variety of flora and fauna.

The sanctuary spread over 2600 hectares on the foothills of eco fragile Shivalik hills, has a large number of water bodies and natural rainwater slopes that help to fill Sukhna Lake every year. The lake’s water level heavily drops during the summer season. “However, due to such illegal activities and having illegal constructions in the adjoining area of Sukhna Wildlfe Sanctuary, the water level of the Sukhna Lake is decreasing day by day,” the communique further said.

The notice has directed the resort to stop the illegal activities, remove kacha path/road, remove illegal construction and to stop fire incidents etc. in the adjoining area of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, otherwise, the Forest Department, will be constrained to take legal action against you as per law.

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