NGT plans to settle Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary dispute; forms committee
The National Green Tribunal has constituted a committee to decide whether two private engineering colleges have been constructed inside the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel set up the committee on October 30 comprising the Principal Secretaries of departments of revenue and forest, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Head of the Forest Force) and the Chief Wild Life Warden of Uttar Pradesh.
The nodal officer will be the Chief Wild Life Warden of the state who will coordinate the proceedings and take initiative for carrying out these directions, the tribunal said, adding that the Chief Secretary will facilitate this exercise as per the timelines fixed by it.
"The meeting for the purpose may be held within one month from today and decision on the question whether the Anand Engineering College, Agra and Hindustan Institute of Management and Technology are within the area of Wild Life Sanctuary notified on March 27, 1991, may be taken within two months thereafter. The concerned statutory authorities will thereafter enforce the said order. The committee is free to take the assistance of any concerned officer of the State," the bench said.
The NGT said that it would be open to the parties to put forward their viewpoint before the committee through the Chief Wild Life Warden in writing with relevant records.
"A report of the committee may be forwarded to this Tribunal by the Chief Wild Life Warden, Uttar Pradesh by e-mail at email@example.com on or before February 28, 2019, and put up for consideration on March 12, 2019," said the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, in its October 30 order.
The order came after counsel for the parties suggested that a committee is constituted to resolve the conflicting versions and to oversee demarcation.
"On the one hand, the stand of Agra District Magistrate is that the area is covered by the Notification, on the other hand without demarcation of the same, the SEIAA has granted Environmental Clearance and the Pollution Control Board has granted Consent under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 thereby permitting the institutions to continue," the NGT noted.
The tribunal was hearing a plea of an environmentalist challenging the construction of two private engineering colleges inside the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra.
It alleged that the construction has come up without obtaining required environment clearance as required under EIA Notification, 2006, No Objection Certificate from Pollution Control Board, Forest Clearance and any permission from National Board for Wildlife and in violation of Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2010.
The plea had sought the demolition of an illegal structure, quashing of environmental clearances and action against state officials besides restoration of the area.
It had also alleged that Hindustan Institute of Management and Technology was discharging noxious effluents directly into Keetham lake in the sanctuary without treatment.
The plea claimed that the college "managed" to procure NOC from the district administration of Agra that the land is not being used for agriculture or horticulture "in violation of the provisions of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which prohibits such change of land use".
(With inputs from agencies.)