Uttarakhand High Court Lifts Construction Ban at Sookha Tal Lake in Nainital

In a significant development, the Uttarakhand High Court has removed the previously imposed ban on the ongoing construction activities at Sookha Tal Lake in Nainital, aimed at beautification. The decision was announced by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal, following a hearing on a public interest litigation that addressed concerns about heavy construction work under the guise of beautification.

The Lake Development Authority and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam have been instructed to complete the remaining construction and beautification works within the next three months. During the hearing, representatives from the Lake Development Authority urged the court to lift the ban, stating that 70% of the work had already been completed and an expenditure of 20 crore INR had been incurred.

The case initially came to the court’s attention through a letter from Dr. G.P. Shah and others, who highlighted the extensive construction activities at Sookha Tal, the main recharge zone for the Naini Lake. The letter claimed that these activities were not only unscientific but had also halted the natural water sources, risking the drying up of the lake. Additionally, it was noted that there were existing encroachments around the lake where permanent structures had been erected without proper clearance.

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Dr. Shah’s letter emphasized the dire consequences of drying up the lake’s water sources, which could severely impact local residents who rely on nearby water sources for drinking water. The letter also mentioned previous unsuccessful attempts to get action from district authorities on this matter, which prompted the High Court to take suo moto cognizance and register it as a public interest litigation.

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