Courts Update NGT directs authorities to implement Vishwamitri River Action Plan

NGT directs authorities to implement Vishwamitri River Action Plan

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New Delhi, May 29 (ILNS) The National Green Tribunal has directed the authorities to implement the “Vishwamitri River Action Plan,” including steps for removal of unauthorised structures,
demarcation and protection of flood plain zone and other action points, as per the river restoration
plan.

The grievance in the application was against the Vishwamitri River front Development Project (VRDP) at
Vadodra, Gujrat, in violation of environmental norms.

Broad averments of the applicants are that
the project violated the Environmental impact assistance (EIA) Notification, 2006, requiring prior EC,
after assessment of the impact of the project on environment.
Paramount importance in river ecology is the presence of the highly protected species, the Indian
crocodile (Crocodylus palustries- Mugger Crocodile) and Turtles which is categorized as nationally
‘vulnerable’, subsequent to an assessment following IUCN criteria for threatened species (Molur and
Walker 1998) and has the highest legal protection in India. It is listed in Schedule I to the Indian
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The tribunal says –
Any activity against the survival of the highly protected species, without approval by the State
Wildlife Board/National Wildlife Board and the Government of India is illegal.
There were other illegal activities in the river, resulting in damage to the riverine ecology .The
activities included dumping of the solid waste, illegal constructions, etc. The flood water course
changed because of illegal constructions. The construction activity commenced on or about
25.10.2015 to which objections were raised.
The tribunal noted that, petition first came up for hearing on 28.04.2016 when notice was issued to
the respondents i.e. MoEF&CC and the authorities of the State of Gujarat. Vide order dated
25.05.2016, this Tribunal restrained the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), from proceeding
with the development activities within the area of VRDP project.
The VMC taking its stand that the project has not yet been finalized and it was only at conceptual
stage. The project was to beautify and rejuvenate the river for the benefit of the general public.
The court considered the fact that Vishwamitri River is one of 351 identified polluted river stretches,
identified as such by the Central Pollution Control Board. The issue of rejuvenation of the said
polluted river stretches has been exhaustively considered by this Tribunal.
The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that the constitution of a
River Rejuvenation Committee in each State/UT to prepare and execute an action plan for
restoration of each of such polluted stretches to give effect to the rule of law in a time bound
manner is at utmost importance. Such action plans have been prepared and approved by the CPCB
and their execution is to be overseen by the Chief Secretary in the State and Central Monitoring
Committee headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Jalshakti at the National level.

The tribunal had, on May 25, directed for implementation of the “Vishwamitri River Action Plan” and completion of action plan by the concerned authorities within three months. ILNS/HS/RJ

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