New Delhi: Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has put the Uttarakhand government in the dock for ignoring the notification declaring Kedarnath and large parts of the state an eco sensitive zone (ESZ). She also accused the state of deliberately ignoring the notification. According to the Minister, this notification is still valid.

The Minister, however added that the priority is to rescue the people stranded in the flash floods in the state and provide relief to the affected people.

Last month, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposed the new 4179.59 sq km eco sensitive zone in the Bhagirathi Valley which put tough restrictions on tourism activities and hydel projects in the hill state.

Bahuguna had also accused Natarajan of ignoring the development needs of the state before issuing the notification.

The Chief Minister had said several infrastructure development projects are in the pipeline in the region and the Centre's move will amount to stalling nearly all of them including construction of bridges, hydel projects, Border Roads Organisation's realignment work and flood control measures.

In December 2012, the Centre had declared the 100 kms stretch along the Bhagirathi river from Gangotri to Uttarkashi an eco sensitive zone which meant no development was permitted there.

(Mukesh Kejariwal)

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