Gramin Society formed to oppose Kasauli Development Plan

KUMARHATTI: To oppose Kasauli Development Plan, the villagers of twelve panchayats have formed Grahmin Adhikar Surkasha Samiti. The plan has been proposed by the Town and Country Planning on the orders of HP High Court in which the department was directed to strike a balance between developmental needs and environment protection.

Talking to My Himachal here today, the office bearers of Samiti has accused that contrarily to the theme of plan, it has planned to put a blanket ban on every pursuit that has the promise of a better future for the local population.

The draft proposes to ban every new factory, hotel, guest house, shopping complex, institutional establishments like schools, colleges, hospitals, residential projects both in government and private sector till the year 2021, pointed out Mr. Kapil Tandon, Secretary of Samiti. As a result of this line of thought neither any exhaustive statistical data nor the needs of the local population have been made the basis of this plan. Hence, this plan was being seen as a direct encroachment on the fundamental rights of the locals, said Mr. Tandon adding the plan would end all the employment opportunities in this region and people would have to migrate to Parwanoo and Baddi for jobs.

The draft proposes to allow only premium tourism projects on minimum area of 10 bighas (7500sqm) and puts a ban of small hotels and guest houses, remarked Mr. Prabhu Dayal, President of Samiti. Whereas, the local population neither has 10 bighas continuous stretch of land nor they have the financial capacity to build such huge projects. Cleverly the draft reserves the salubrious climate of Kasauli for outsiders to exploit for commercial gains. The plan draft has been influenced by the rich to safe guard their vested interests, he maintained.

What was being seen as a case of discrimination against the locals that the proposal restricted the size on new buildings to less than 200 square meter only with maximum of three dwelling units per floor, asserted Mr. Dayal. It also restricted the number of storeys to two in already congested abadi-dehs, he said. The draft also took away the right of people to perform Khangi Taqsim (family partition) for non-agricultural purposes and proposes to have a forest officer involved in family partitions, he pointed out. It proposed to disallow any new water connections to commercial establishments, he rued.

According to the draft, now onwards the occupancy certificate shall be issued by the Director, TCP, Shimla where as the plans are to be approved by Town Planner, Solan. Minute material alterations shall require prior approval from the office of Director, TCP at Shimla. Moreover, plans for partial land development have also been banned.

The Samiti members have also raised questions against the working of the proposed Enforcement Committee for Kasauli Planning Area (KPA). They demanded that the TCP should be implemented on the same lines as it was to be implemented in whole of state with the passing of the new legislation that proposes to replace the TCP Act.

If the proposal was finalized by the government without giving any attention to the objections raised by the local population of KPA, the proposal could inflict such damage to the development of the area that it would become impossible for the people to recuperate ever, the members opined.

The Samiti has also apprised their objections to Dr. Rajiv Saizal, the local sitting BJP MLA, and Dr. Amandeep Garg , DC Solan.

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