Let's save Kangra valley's tea gardens

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Tea Gardens are a defining feature of Kangra valley. Not only do they lend charm and ethereal beauty to the landscape but with a good tree canopy essential for their good growth, these gardens serve as green buffers and the lungs of the valley. In these days of mindless, unplanned urbanisation and climate change, the role of tea gardens serving as green oases to prevent further erosion and degradation of the area's ecology and environment can hardly be gainsaid. Therefore, the current government move as reported in a section of print media to permit the sale of land-under-tea is not only an environmental horror but also violates HP ceiling on Land Holding Act, 1972. Under the act, the big tea estates, unlike other farmers, were spared from losing their large estates under the condition that they will henceforth be custodians and not owners of their tea gardens and would neither sell nor change their land use. Despite this, tea gardens are shrinking fast, are being sold and are giving way to unregulated construction with encroachments on narrow link roads making life difficult for old dwellers. If the governmentt formulates a new policy to permit wholesale selling of the gardens it would be a final death knell for this vital green feature of the valley that we boast of. Worse, it would be an ecological disaster leading to frightfully high environmental costs in terms of warming, land erosion, landslides and flash floods, not to speak of pollution and congestion.

It is therefore urged that in the larger public interest, the present government at the fag end of its term may desist from bringing in such a policy. It is hoped that Virbhadra Singh, the present CM, will hold public interest and welfare above political considerations and save the already diminishing tea gardens from complete and irrevocable decimation.

It is also humbly requested that the Hon’ble Chief Justice will, in public interest, take suo motu note of the news reports bringing to light this issue and proactively scuttle this move by using the judicial arm for public good.

Let us all therefore join hands. Let us all sign the petition for further submission to the Chief Minister, HP, and the Chief Justice, HP High Court. Let us be proactive in preventing further loss of green cover instead of shedding tears over it later on. Let us all do it rising above personal political leanings and without malice or ill will for any one.



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