Damage To Env Along Highway:NGT Refuses To Review Rs 1-Cr Fine Order

NEW DELHI — The National Green Tribunal has refused to review its order of penalising Gammon India Limited and the Hindustan Construction Co Ltd of Rs 1 crore each for damaging the environment during construction of a stretch of the Udhampur-Banihal National in Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench headed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also ordered the monitoring committee of former judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice J R Kotwal, to conduct an environment audit.

The NGT had slapped the fines after the project proponents were found dumping soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers.

“There is no ground to say that interim compensation required to be paid, pending the determination of actual extent of damage for which the committee has to make its recommendation after all the sites are visited, is uncalled for,” the bench said.

The tribunal also said that while undertaking the exercise for assessment of damage, the committee may take into account the entire damage right from the beginning of the project and not merely what was observed during a particular visit.

“The committee may visit all the existing designated and non-designated dumping sites and give report regarding current practices of debris dumping, remedial measures proposed to secure designated dumping sites including its capacity, quantity of debris received, balance quantity to be received, illegal dumping of mucks and debris on entire stretch along with the quantum of muck dumped and file report within two months by e-mail,” the tribunal said. 

The tribunal on February 12 had imposed a fine on both the companies and also asked them to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 1 crore for improving the situation within the next three months.

The tribunal had passed the order after perusing a report by a monitoring committee which informed it that the project proponent should immediately discontinue with the use of dumping sites.

The green panel had also asked the committee to examine the actual extent of damage and the amount required for restoration.

The tribunal’s order came on a petition filed by Ramban resident Amaresh Singh against rampant dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers and sought directions to restrain the authorities from throwing debris in the water bodies while constructing the stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway between Udhampur and Banihal.

The plea, filed through advocate Swarn Kishore Singh, had said the work on four-laning of the stretch of the highway was being executed in “a reckless manner” and loose soil was being dumped directly into the two rivers.

The NGT had earlier directed the Jammu and Kashmir government and the state pollution control board to test ambient air quality in the entire construction stretch of Udhampur-Banihal Highway after a plea alleged air pollution in the area.
 

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