NGT restrains construction agencies from throwing muck in Chenab, Tawi

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, May 30:  Giving an interim direction, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained the concerned executing agencies from throwing any debris and muck resulting from the construction of the road from Udhampur to Banihal, in the rivers Chenab and Tawi, directly or indirectly.
The direction was issued by the NGT Principal Bench, New Delhi, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation, filed against rampant dumping of soil directly in these rivers, without prior environment clearance and in violation of the conditions stipulated in the Environment Clearance, thus adversely affecting the ecosystem, overall ecology of the area and integrity of Chenab as well as Tawi rivers.
The NGT has issued separate notices to the Chief Secretary of J&K Government, the State Ministry of Forests and Ecology, Gammon India Ltd, Hindustan Construction Co Ltd, J&K State Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate and SSP Udhampur, District Magistrate and SSP Ramban for filing their reply over the issue, if any, within two weeks.
“We restrain all the respondents from throwing any debris/muck resulting from the construction of the road from Udhampur to Banihal, in  any of the rivers, directly or indirectly, including Tawi and Chenab,” orders the NGT Principal Bench, comprising Justice Swantanter Kumar (Chairperson), Justice M S Nambiar,  Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore,  Prof A R Yousuf  and Bikram Singh Sajwan.
In the PIL, filed by Amresh Singh, through Advocate Swarn Kishore Singh and others, the applicant has submitted that the work on four-lanning of the National Highway is being executed in a very recklessness manner and the loose soil is being dumped directly into the river thus creating very huge dunes scaling from the river to the road while decimating everything, which came in between.
Further, the PIL says, the dumping of soil has even coloured the crystal clear water of Chenab, which is not only affecting the river but also the aquatic life therein.
The construction work of four-laning of the National Highway from Udhampur to Banihal had started a few months ago and hence began the work of excavation of soil and subsequently its dumping as well. The area, where the construction is being carried  out stretches in the districts of Udhampur and Ramban. The stretch of National Highway, passing through these two districts, runs alongside the Chenab or Tawi rivers. And between the rivers and the National Highway, there is wide stretch of forests.
“The soil thrown from the roadside first hits the trees in the forests and then ultimately reaches the rivers. Since the soil is being dumped for the last few months, the forests have got buried under the dumped soil while the muck is directly reaching the river, hence polluting the water,” the PIL explains.
After hearing the counsel for the applicant, the Tribunal passed interim order and next date of hearing is August 5, 2016.