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Punjab, Haryana fined Rs 100 crore each by HC over damages to Sukhna Lake

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday fined Punjab and Haryana Rs 100 crore each for causing damage to the catchment area of Sukhna Lake.

The high court bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and HS Sidhu also ordered the demolition of all the structures in the catchment area and ordered that the owners whose building plans were approved by the authorities would be relocated and compensated with Rs 25 lakh each.

The order came in a 2009 suo motu petition initiated over the depleting water level in the lake. The lake was created by Le Corbusier in 1958. By 1988, 66% of the original water holding capacity of the lake was lost due to silting. Following this, check dams were constructed in the catchment area. But the water level has once again started going down. The lake now has a capacity of around 500 hectare-metres against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres.

The Rs 200 crore fine would be deposited with the ministry of environment, forest within three months. The ministry would utilize the funds for restoration of the lake.

The court also declared Sukhna as a living entity. The chief secretaries of both the states and adviser, Chandigarh, have been asked to constitute high-power committees to fix responsibilities of the officers who permitted large scale unauthorized construction, within a period of four weeks.

The Chandigarh administration has been directed to declare Sukhna Lake as Wetland within a period of three months. Punjab and Haryana too have been directed to declare areas falling under their jurisdiction as wetland within three months. The ministry of environment, forest has been directed to notify at least 1 km area from the boundary of Sukhna Lake Wildlife Sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone. It also declared two master plans of Punjab and Haryana, which allowed construction in the catchment area, as illegal.

Source: Hindustan Times

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