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31 Jan 2023, 21:43 HRS IST
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  • Halt all constructions near Umiam Lake : Meghalaya HC

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Shillong, Oct 20 (PTI) The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday directed all construction activities around the Umiam Lake be kept in abeyance till the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) comes up with a more detailed report on whether it would be permissible to allow their completion.

The HC, which was hearing a PIL, passed the order after a report filed by the KHADC revealed that the findings of the joint inspection conducted with the PCB (on September 5-6) found seven establishments had constructed buildings within 300 m of the highest flood level (HFL) of the lake.

No future construction in or around the Umiam Lake, at least within 1000m from the HFL, will be allowed before strict norms for such construction and treatment of effluence are put in place, after leaving a no-construction buffer zone of about 500m from the HFL, by the appropriate authorities, it directed.

Several of these buildings, including proposed guest houses and restaurants, are under construction and have not yet been completed.

According to the KHADC report some form of permission had been obtained for the constructions from the local authorities.

In some cases, permissions had also been obtained from the PCB, but it did not appear that there was any law on the extent of the construction, the nature of construction or any limit or regulation in such regar, it said.

Even if an establishment is found to have made the construction with some form of permission, strict conditions need to be imposed to ensure that the cleanliness of the water below or the aesthetics of the surroundings is not adversely affected, the bench said.

For such purpose, the district council in conjunction with the PCB will indicate the extent of further construction that may be allowed after going through the construction plans in respect of those establishments where the construction has not yet been completed. In case of completed projects, it will be open to the KHADC and the PCB to indicate if any part of the construction is required to be demolished in the larger public interest or what strict conditions should be adhered to for taking up or continuing the activity at the relevant establishment, the bench said.

The authorities should keep in mind that the closer an establishment is to the water or the HFL, the stricter the norms must be, it directed.

The bench hoped that KHADC will apply the same rules to its own guesthouse which apparently sits at a vantage point overlooking the lake.

The next hearing will be held on November 15.

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