Higher Education

Private university violates green norms in Himachal

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A Punjab-based private professional university that is setting up its campus in Himachal Pradesh has violated environmental norms, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said on Friday. “Environmental violations have been done by Rayat Bahra University in the construction of phase-II campus in Waknaghat (near Shimla),” Dhumal, who also holds the environment portfolio, said in a written reply in the state assembly. He said violations have been observed by the government as university authorities flattened the hill by 10 metres against the permissible limit of 3.5 metres. “Cognizance of this offence has been taken by the Special Area Development Authority of Kandaghat and a notice has been issued March 9, 2011, under the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Act of 1977,” the minister said. The HP Pollution Control Board had also issued notices to the university authorities last year for polluting water and air, but these were rectified later. However, Dhumal said there was no violation of cutting the hill during the construction of phase-I of the campus. Dhumal's statement is significant as the opposition Congress party has been leveling allegations against the Bharatiya Janata Party state government for relaxing environmental norms and Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land reforms Act. These norms barred any non-agriculturist, including bonafide Himachalis, from purchasing land without special permission from the government. The Congress party has also been raising the environmental violations by the upcoming Rayat Bahra University.

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