New Delhi, Mar 20 (ILNS) The National Green Tribunal today accepted the recommendation given by an Oversight Committee regarding the protection of Environment in Uttar Pradesh’s pilgrimage site Govardhan near Mathura-Vrindavan.
A three-Judge bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, while disposing of the plea filed by Giriraj Parikrama Sanrakshan Sansthan, accepted the recommendations given by the Oversight Committee, and said, “We do not see any reason not to accept the recommendations of the Oversight Committee. The Committee constituted in terms of order of this Tribunal, dated August 31, 2020, may ensure compliance of the recommendations and completion of the pending work by continuing its monitoring.”
The Committee gave the following recommendations:-
The progress regarding certain essential environmental protection measures like development of permanent dumping site, boundary wall/protection around protected forest sewage/drainage network around Govardhan/ Radhakund needs to be improved.
The construction of Radhakund Bypass needs to be expedited. There needs to be more urgency in starting the work of service road. The construction of multi-level parking needs to be expedited.
Action Plan for cleaning of nine Kunds should be made urgently. The study being done by NEERI needs to be expedited.
All encroachments on the Parikrama Marg need be removed. Proactive efforts should be made for vacation of stay orders.
The status of investigation in case of encroachment by Braj Foundation be reported to NGT.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary should review the progress at least once in a quarter to ensure inter departmental coordination.
The directions were passed, while the Green Tribunal’s Principal bench, also comprising Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Expert Member Nagin Nanda, disposed of a plea filed by Giriraj Parikrama Sanrakshan Sansthan.
The plea sought the Tribunal’s intervention for protection of environment in Govardhan and surrounding areas, particularly the Giriraj Parvat (Hill) near Mathura-Vrindavan.
According to the applicants, on account of spiritual and cultural significance of the area, 8-10 million pilgrims from different parts of the World visit the Parikrama (path for walking around a sacred place) of Govardhan every month.
“They also visit the temple of Giriraj Ji, Radha Kund and other holy places in the vicinity. However, on account of negligence of the authorities, there were challenges to the environment like illegal felling of trees, encroachments, unscientific dumping of solid waste and discharge of untreated sewage,” the plea claimed.
The petitioners further contended that the area is 26 km West of Mathura, near the State Highway towards Deeg in Rajasthan. The Parikrama Marg (path) is about 21 km in the foothill, where the Lord Krishna is believed to have saved people of Braj from the wrath of Lord Indra.
“There are various beliefs associated with different locations in the entire area. There is associated cultural and religious history. There are historical water bodies also, having religious and cultural significance. Large number of pilgrims visit on account of their religious sentiments,” the plea said.
“One of the concerns of the applicants is that forest cover in the town of Govardhan should not be destroyed and reserved forest land may not be diverted for any other purpose. This concern was shown on account of proposal for non-forest use of 3.9 hectares reserved forest land in Govardhan, for widening of the road,” the petitioner said.
It may be noted that Govardhan is small hill and a pilgrimage site near Vrindavan and Mathura (Birth place of Lord Krishna. Lakhs of devotees throng the place every year on various festivals. Parikrama (circumambulation) is performed around the hill almost every month where lakhs of devotees gather. There is an urgent need to provide basic infrastructure facilities and amenities and need to protect the environment. ILNS/ANB/SNG/RJ