The National Green Tribunal has ordered environment audit of the work undertaken by state-run NHIDCL to ascertain the amount of muck dumped into the Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand during construction of road.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed a committee comprising representatives of the Environment Ministry, Central Soil and Water Conservation, Research and Training Institute, Chandigarh, CPCB, and GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development to submit a report in a month in this regard.
"We direct that environment audit of the work undertaken by NHIDCL at Batheri Chungi and Nallupani areas of the NH-34 by the Committee so as to ascertain the total quantity of muck/debris generated by works undertaken by NHIDCL, quantity disposed at designated dump site(s), capacity of designated site(s), adequacy of protection measures, any short comings in terms of muck quantities generated and scientifically disposed which can be specifically attributed to NHIDCL," the bench said.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) may coordinate the cost of the audit which will be borne by the project proponent, the tribunal said.
National Highway 34 runs from Gangotri Dham in Uttarakhand to Lakhnadon in Madhya Pradesh.
During the hearing, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) sought modification of the NGT order directing it to deposit a sum of Rs two crore with the CPCB for environment restoration after it found that the company was dumping muck into the Bhagirathi river on the ground that the area in question is factually land slide zone.
"The work assigned to the NHIDCL is to mitigate the land slides. The dumping in the present case was because of land slide. The applicant (NHIDCL) is to protect only the hill side and not the valley side. Muck was flowing in the dumping site due to natural land slide. Thus, NHIDCL cannot be responsible or required to pay any amount," it said.
However, the tribunal said that the committee comprises of credible officers of the government and factual aspects of the report cannot be doubted. Moreover, inspection was carried out in the presence of the representatives of the company.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Gaurav Jain who had alleged that NHIDCL was dumping muck into Bhagirathi river during construction of road in a reckless manner.
It had referred to various newspaper reports to substantiate its claim.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)