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Weekly Pullouts » Himachal Tribune

Posted at: Jun 9, 2018, 12:26 AM; last updated: Jun 9, 2018, 12:26 AM (IST)

Palampur faces serious threat to ecosystem

No curbs on haphazard construction of shops, houses, roads

Ravinder Sood

Palampur, a picturesque tourist resort which is also known as the tea town of Himachal Pradesh,  is losing its glory slowly, all due to the apathy of the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Department  and the local municipal council, which  have allowed   “unplanned” and   “unregulated”  growth of the town.

Haphazard construction of shops, houses and roads is going on unchecked in various parts of the town. It seems no authority exists to check illegal constructions in the town. A number of shops, houses and other buildings have come up here without the approval of the municipal council or the TCP Department. 

A number of influential persons and henchmen of politicians have been allowed by government agencies to go ahead with illegal construction.  The outstanding demand of the residents to extend the municipal limits or set up a Municipal Corporation in the town has been hanging fire.

Besides, Palampur has   also been facing a serious environmental threat, as the green cover of this picturesque town is declining day by day.  There is no check on the felling and lopping off of the trees. The deodar trees, which were the beauty of the town once, are vanishing day by day.

In the past 10 years, hundreds of trees of different varieties have either been axed or pruned. There was a time when Palampur was covered with a dense green cover, but today in many areas reckless felling of trees has taken place.  Most of the government agencies have become mute spectators to the denuding of the green cover of the town; there is hardly anyone in the administration who would initiate proactive steps to check the reduction of the tree cover in the town.

Unfortunately, no efforts have been made to either plant new trees or save the existing ones   in the town or in the adjoining areas where large-scale urbanization have taken place. The TCP Department has failed to check the construction activity in the green belt. In many areas, new construction has come up in the green belt notified by the TCP Department in gross violation of the rules. 

Various voluntary organisations and environmentalists have lodged protests with the authorities concerned against reckless felling and lopping off of trees in Palampur. People’s Voice, an NGO, has appealed to the Himachal Pradesh High Court to intervene and save the green cover of Palampur town by banning felling of trees. The sanitary condition of the town is deplorable.  The satellite areas of the town like Ghuggar, Aima, Lohana, Bindravan, Chokki and Bundla are the worst affected where government officials never bother to visit. Heaps of garbage can be seen everywhere in the town emitting a foul smell.  The council or the panchyats have also failed to check the stray cattle and dog menace. The number of stray dogs in the town is on the rise, as the MC has so far initiated no steps to sterilise them. In the past three years, over 50 cases of dogs bite were reported from different parts of the town. 

At present, the garbage is being dumped into local streams and forests near the town. The water of these streams is utilised by the Irrigation and Public Health Department for various drinking water supply schemes in the lower areas of Palampur, which can result in the outbreak of a serious epidemic any time.

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