Intervention of the highest court in the land has finally ensured that the beautiful hill resort of Nainital -- marred by various polluting agents -- still retained its pristine splendour. A petition submitted by Ajay Singh Rawat, head of the department of history, Kumaun University (Nainital), and taken up by J S Atri, advocate, discussed the various aspects of environmental degradation affecting the place. Prime among them is the enormous damage being caused to the Nainital lake, which has virtually become a dumping ground for public sewage, horse dung and rubble. Rampant construction of buildings along the hillsides has led to siltation of the lake. The Ballia ravine through which the overflow of the lake passes is also in a dilapidated state, thus endangering the very existence of the lake, and subsequently, the town. The heavy traffic along the Mall road has effected an ominous increase in the air and noise pollution levels. Illegal felling of trees along the Cheena peak has contributed to landslides, claiming 2 lives in 1989. The Supreme Court's judgement, issued on March 9, has imposed a ban on all building activity in the town of Nainital. Houses are, henceforth, to come up only on flat areas. Traffic on the Mall is also to be reduced. In the case of the Ballia ravine, efforts to stabilise it are to be undertaken immediately. Sewage water and horse dung are to be diverted elsewhere, instead of being let into the lake.

To oversee the above, the SC has also set up a monitoring committee consisting of officials of departments concerned and interested citizens. The committee is expected to report its findings at its meetings, held every month to start with, and then every 2 months. All these measures could go a long way in restoring to Nainital its famed picturesque beauty, and also bring back the blue sheen to the lake, which is now a dirty green.

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