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Meghalaya High Court directs state govt to report construction activities around Umiam lake

On Tuesday , the Court noted that the State has filed a report, but the report does not allude to any construction coming up by the lake.

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The Meghalaya High Court has recently directed the state government to report all construction activities around the Umiam Lake, at least within 100 meters of the water anywhere near Umiam Lake and indicate the nature of such construction and as to whether any environmental impact assessment has been conducted or due permission has been granted by the authorities for such activities to be undertaken or the project to be commenced.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh heard a Suo Motu PIL involving the overall interest of the general public on cleanliness of Umiam Lake. The cleanliness of Umiam Lake is potentially affecting tourism and also is a health hazard to the inhabitants of the state of Meghalaya.

On 25.03.2021, the High Court has directed the Advocate for the state to call a meeting of all the concerned departments of the State Government as well as the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (for Umiam Lake/Reservoir only) in order to suggest measures for efficacious resolution of the issues plaguing both Umiam Lake/Reservoir and Ward’s Lake by filing a comprehensive report in this regard .

On Tuesday, the Court noted that the State has filed a report, but the report does not allude to any construction coming up by the lake.

It is imperative that the environment and ecology around the lake be preserved. Further, it would be essential for any big construction coming up near the lake to obtain clearance from the environmental authorities, notwithstanding the land belonging to any District Council, observed the Bench.

Carrying of the construction material must also be regulated to ensure that the delicate ecology is not unduly disturbed. The Bench seeks further report in such regard within a week after the vacation.

It is further observed by the Bench that it is  obligatory that large water bodies in the State, whether man-made or otherwise, which attract tourists should have trained lifeguards and security personnel, both to regulate the movement of tourists and also in case of any emergency stemming out of tourist adventurism.

Primary treatment facilities, particularly first-aid kits and lifesaving implements together with rubber inflatable tyres should be available at locations which attract a large number of tourists, said the High Court.

The matter is listed on February 2, 2022 for further hearing.

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