In the hills of Uttarakhand, entire prairie with lake “private property” | Dehradun News


DEHRADUN: A sign that declared a grassland with a dry lake at 6,000 feet in Chamoli District as “private estate” alarmed Uttarakhand environmentalists, many of whom called for an investigation into “encroachment by the land mafia ”.
The signage was spotted this week by city ecologist Manoj Dhyani and his team who had traveled to the area – nearly 660 hectares of lush oak and rhododendron cover – to inspect why Lake Benital in Gairsain s ‘was dry.
“Our intention was to understand why this Himalayan lake has dried up despite the rain and snow this year, but we were shocked and heartbroken to see this sign indicating that the whole prairie was ‘private domain.’ How the entrance can the lake or the meadow be private property? We are calling for an investigation into this, ”Dhyani said.
The meadows or bugyals of Uttarakhand enjoy legal protection. The High Court had previously ruled that no permanent structures should be built in the alpine and subalpine prairies and prairies of the Himalayas. He had also passed a mandate limiting the number of tourists to these places to protect the grasslands from exploitation.
Local residents said the sign was installed this year. Magan Singh, president of Benital Jan Sangharsh Samiti, an organization fighting for the rights of villagers in the region, told TOI: “We have a local fair in Benital every year and this sign was definitely not there last year. or the previous year. It appeared this year and he mentions that the land and the lake were given to the owner by the British.
TOI discovered that the “domain” was embroiled in a long legal battle. Under the Kumaun and Uttarakhand Zamindari Abolition and Agrarian Reform Act 1960, the rights, titles and interests of each hissedaar (owner) to forest lands in the specified areas ceased with effect from January 1, 1978 and the same were vested in the state government.
In August 1997 said forest. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the private forest should be turned over to the state and the claimants should be compensated.
Ashutosh Singh, a divisional forestry officer (Badrinath Forestry Division), told TOI that after the judgment, the state government declared that the 660 hectares of land would be declared a classified forest. “But in order to do this, the revenue department needs to transfer the land to the forestry department, which has yet to be done.”
Chamoli District Magistrate Swati Bhadoria said no one had yet approached the district administration with an encroachment complaint. “If anyone encroaches on government land, they will face legal action,” Bhadoria said.
Environmentalists said building at such elevations should be banned to protect the fragile ecology. Padma Shri Kalyan Singh Rawat, founder of the Maiti Movement – under which honeymooners plant saplings – said: “If the Earth Mafia is allowed to observe the Himalayas, it will destroy its biodiversity and threaten the survival of the human race. . ” Rawat said the rare Brahma Kamal once bloomed in Benital, but the lake has now dried up due to lack of conservation efforts.
Lake Benital is surrounded by two mountain ranges – Beni Tal and Dudhatoli – and is 6 km from Adi Badri, a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site in Chamoli. The region is rich in biodiversity with thriving populations of Himalayan goats, leopards and even macaques.


Chris B. Hall

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