The National Green Tribunal today virtually barred construction of buildings 200 metres along the banks of the Ganga in Uttarakhand till further orders to protect pollutants from being discharged into the river.
“We direct that no corporation, authority or panchayat shall grant permission for construction of building, houses, hotels or any structures within 200 metres of shore of river Ganga at the highest flood line without prior approval from the tribunal,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
The panels direction came on a petition filed by advocate M C Mehta who has filed the petition for cleaning of Ganga and suggested that in Western countries rivers are protected from pollution by creating a buffer zone on the banks where no construction is allowed.
During the hearing, Mehta said that National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) could purchase land on the banks of river like National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) does to build roads.
He contended that rapid unregulated constructions were being carried out by simply taking clearances from village panchayats, which are not expert bodies.
Mehta said that due to unregulated constructions on the banks of river, pollutants were discharged in the river and the hills have become vulnerable to landslides and earthquake.
The bench today sought a report by tomorrow from Ministry of Water Resources, prepared by seven IITs on the shortcoming of Ganga Action Plan (GAP)-1 and Plan-2.
The tribunal had earlier said that evolving a 500 meter buffer zone on the banks of river Ganga like in Western countries could be okay in plain areas but had asked whether it could be feasible in the hilly terrain of Uttarakhand.
It was said that during GAP-1, a total of Rs 74.8 crore was spent on cleaning the river, while in GAP-2, Rs 153.73 crore was spent for cleaning from Gaumukh to Haridwar.
Counsel for Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam said all the schemes and plans under the GAP-2 project were successfully completed and implemented.
The bench then observed that even if the projects were completed as claimed, the situation of river Ganga has gone from bad to worse.
“The statement that all the schemes and plans under GAP-2 project were implemented sounds like a joke,” the panel said.
( Source – PTI )