Shimla to have eight more green belts

The state Cabinet today decided to carve out eight new green belts in the state capital and declare them no construction zones. This will raise the total number of green belts in Shimla to 25.

The city at present has 17 green belts spread over 414.36 hectares, which were carved out in December 2000 and declared no construction zones. The decision to carve out more green belts in Shimla will help preserve forests, as proposed by environmentalists. The 17 green belts have been acting as the lungs of the city with no construction activity for the past 23 years.

In contrast to today's decision of the Congress government to increase the number of green belts, the previous BJP regime had thrown open the 17 green belts and the core area of the city for construction. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in its 2017 order not only restricted the opening of green belts for construction but also banned construction in the most congested core area of the city.

The Cabinet also decided to bring more parts of Kullu and Chopal under the ambit of the planning area. The decision is aimed at regulating haphazard construction in these areas that have witnessed rapid urbanisation.

The Supreme Court had on May 3, 2023, given the go-ahead to the government to notify the Shimla Development Plan (SDP). The Cabinet had approved the document on June 19. The previous BJP government by way of the SDP, also known as Vision 2041, had proposed to throw open the green belts for construction.

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