SrinagarNational Green Tribunal (NGT) has set two-week deadline for Srinagar Municipal Corporation to set up a waste-to-energy power plant at Achan, the only garbage dumping site for this summer capital of the state.
We see no reason, why this project should not be taken to its logical end particularly when the project proponent has assured the state government and technical committee to examine performance in terms of technology and protection of environment, a bench of NGT headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, said and passed four directions for SMC and state government to comply with by September 20.
The entire process (for setting of the waste-to-energy plant) shall be completed by the state government within two weeks. The project proponent was present with his technical advisor.
Secondly, the NGT directed that the project proponent, besides complying with the terms and condition of the tender, would ensure creation of green belt around Achan.
It will also ensure construction of a proper wall barrier between the site and the water body (Anchar lake), and ensure that no leachet in any event pollutes the ground water or the water body, surrounding the site in question, including the agricultural fields.
In the penultimate direction, the green panel asked the state government to provide all protection and facilities to the project proponent to carry out the work.
The suggestions, if any, made by the local residents of the area would be considered by the authorities concerned.
Finally, it directed that the project proponent shall place on record before it, as to how it would ensure that no excessive emission of Carbon monoxide (CO) and other gaseous substances are released into the environment and what safeguard have been built into the project.
The NGT had proposed the setting of the plant to the SMC almost three years ago and its aim was to end the crisis of solid waste management in Srinagar and to create a mechanism for waste management at an affordable cost.
We may also notice that despite orders of the Tribunal now for nearly three years, the State of Jammu & Kashmir have failed to award the contract for one reason or other including lack of response by the parties to the invitation, inviting tender or submission of a single bidder whose bid was not accepted for reasons known to the this matter is to be placed before the State Level Contract Committee as the value of the project is likely to be hundred crores and above, said the panel, also comprising Bikram Singh Sajwan (expert member).
That committee will open the financial bid and place and recommend it before the Minister concerned who will finally accept the tender and direct placement of work order. We direct that this entire process should be completed within a period of two weeks.
The NGT also made it clear that it will not grant any further adjournment in the case and expressed optimism that the Committee as well as the Sanctioning Authority shall keep in mind the historical background of the case and the fact that the indiscriminate dumping in Achan lake side.
People are stated to have been suffering from different diseases because of this huge dumping and even the water body which is stated to be at a distance of 250 Mtrs. is getting polluted besides the ground water. It is not only necessary, but it is the mandate of the law and time today that the waste to energy plant must come up at the site in accordance with the law and rules in force.
The NGT underlined that the health of the public living around that area was to be protected and it was the fundamental duty of the state and the SMC to ensure that the people of the area are not exposed to undue environmental and health hazard.
When we mention that authority should take historical background of the case, it must be conscious of the fact that it is the constitutional and statutory obligation of the state government on the one hand to provide decent and clean environment while on the other hand no project proponent have ever offered to come forward and set up plant in State in the past. One project proponent who had agreed earlier to perform after placing of the work order, his tender was cancelled by the State Government for the reasons best known to them. The State Government and the Corporation ought not to treat it as a commercial venture and profiting on this count should not be the consideration of the State.
The NGT said that the government must ensure that it performs its constitutional duty under local laws including the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986.
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