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Jaisalmer's 'Maru Mahotsav' venue changed, NGT constitutes panel to study desert ecology

ANI | Updated: Feb 04, 2023 20:08 IST

New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): Jaisalmer District Administration filed a report and informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the venue of the cultural evening during Maru Mahotsav 2023 has been shifted to Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium in the city.
After perusing the report, the bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goyal said " In view of the above, no further intervention appears to be necessary at this stage as far as activities of 'Maru Mahotsav 2023' are concerned."
However, the bench has constituted a ten members joint committee headed by Justice (retired) PC Tatia of Rajasthan High Court and former Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court to study for balance economic activity with the need to preserve ecologically fragile and sensitive areas for the protection of inter-generational equity.
The committee shall file its report within two months. The matter has been listed on May 4, 2023.
While constituting the committee considered the extracts from orders of the Tribunal that show how sustainable development requires study to balance economic activity with the need to preserve ecologically fragile and sensitive areas for the protection of inter-generational equity.
The bench observed, "Desert ecology needs protection in the same way as fragile ecology of hills, forests, coastal or other such areas. Such places are tourist attractions. While tourism generates wealth and employment on the one hand, it threatens flora and fauna on the other, unless suitable safeguards and regulations are adopted."
The bench ordered, "In the light of above, we constitute a ten-member joint Committee headed by Justice PC Tatia, former Judge of Rajasthan High Court and former Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court, stationed at Jodhpur, Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur, ICAR-National Research Centre on Camel, Bikaner, Regional Officers of MoEF&CC and CPCB, State PCB, District Magistrate and SSP, Jaisalmer, ACS/Principal Secretary, Tourism and PCCF, Wildlife."
The bench said the nodal agency will be the CPCB and State PCB for coordination and compliance.
The Committee will be free to meet online or offline, associate with any other individual/institution, visit the site and interact with all stakeholders, the bench said.
The bench said that the cost of such study will be initially borne by the State PCB (Pollution Control Board) which will abide by further directions of the Tribunal.
The bench ordered an Honorarium of Rs 5 lakhs will be paid to Justice PC Tatia, apart from transportation and other logistics to be arranged by State PCB/District Administration.

The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goyal noted that according to the report of the District Magistrate, the cultural evenings proposed on February 4-5 have been shifted to Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium in Jaisalmer city and no programme with light, sound and firecrackers is being held in Khuhdi and Sam Sand Dunes by Tourism Department and District Administration on any of the festival dates.
The reports of the State PCB and PCCF Wildlife are also on the same pattern with further information about holding a quarterly meeting of the District Environment Committee for identifying actions to be taken on the use of plastic carry bags, solid waste management and illegal
The NGT on January 31 called for an Action Taken Report (ATR) from various authorities of the State of Rajasthan on a plea raising the issue of apprehended damage to the environment by the proposed activities during 'Maru Mahotsav' in the first week of February.
The bench had called for an ATR from various authorities and also issued notice to the project proponent - Principal Secretary, Tourism, Rajasthan by email.
The application was moved by Tapeshwar Singh Bhati, a resident of Kota Rajasthan.
The grievance in this application is against apprehended damage to the environment by proposed activities during 'Maru Mahotsav 2023' at Jaisalmer.
The programme was to be held at Sum and Khuhdi Dunes near Jaisalmer, close to the Desert
National Park (DNP), Jaisalmer and 200-400 metres from the bird sanctuary with the endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB), also known as Godawan.
The proposed activities will adversely affect the wildlife, the bird sanctuary and the environment, the applicant stated.
It is also stated that the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Wildlife Forest has also expressed concern about the above issue but the Tourism Department of Rajasthan is going ahead with the same in violation of provisions of the Wildlife Act, 1972.
The applicant had also annexed a copy of a letter dated January 12, 2023 addressed to the Collector, Jaisalmer by the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Wildlife Forest, Jaisalmer recommending that fireworks, laser show and sound activities in the area should be avoided.
Further issue of the adverse impact of unregulated use of vehicles and consequent generation of dust and smoke and impact on camels also has to be looked into, the bench said. (ANI)