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Impact of Natural Resources on Growth of a Hill Town (case: Shimla)

The hill ecosystems form a major environmental resource. But today, in India, most hill stations are facing the onslaught of industrialisation, urbanisation, commercialisation, destruction of heritage sites and deforestation. This has resulted in landslides, loss of catchment areas and frequent floods in the densely populated plains.

The ecology and environment of most hill stations, has suffered to a large extent. It is becoming evident that without appropriate planning and management, increased tourism, mining, urbanisation, commercialisation and allied industrial development can become a threat to the integrity of both ecosystems and local cultures in sensitive natural areas. Tourism and seasonal migration of populations from the plains to hill areas have a series of socio-cultural, socio-economic, physical and environmental impacts on these areas.

Shimla plays a dual role of the capital city for the state as well as the major tourist hub. One needs to understand the dichotomy. There is no doubt that the population, urbanization and tourism will keep on growing in Shimla and the demand for land and other natural resource will keep on increasing without which development is not possible. Parameters of tourism don’t allow the city to grow and the still lingering legacy is creating its own pressure on the city. One needs to comprehend the problem of legacy (capital city) and ecology.

This study attempted to evaluate the impacts of selected human activities on natural resources and develop relevant measures required to balance the benefits and costs of the major activities - Administration and Tourism on Shimla city for a sustainable development. The aim of the study was to understand the correlation between the natural resources and growth pattern of the hill town and propose directives/measures for easing the congestion within the Shimla city, suggest directions.

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