The ecologically fragile hill state of Himachal Pradesh is in for more degradation as the state government gives the go-ahead to set up 3 cement plants. The state has suffered already due to unabated quarrying of limestone, especially in the districts of Sirmaur and Dharamshala; many of these operations were illegal.
With the government giving formal approval, there is cause for concern. The state, besides being rich in limestone deposits, also has at its disposal tremendous hydel and tourism potential which could be exploited.
Apart from environmentalists, the Union minister of state for communications Sukh Ram has also come down heavily on the decision of the state government. Said the minister at a press conference in Shimla, "I firmly believe that there should be a complete moratorium not only on cement plants, but also on mining operations in the state if its fragile ecology, environment and the tourism industry is to survive".
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