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Decks cleared for waterway project on Ganga

National Green Tribunal has virtually cleared the decks for the inland waterway project, saying there is no scope for it to decide the matter as the Allahabad High Court has already decided the issue.

Published: 08th May 2022 08:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th May 2022 08:38 AM   |  A+A-

The Prayagraj-Haldia stretch is the first national waterways project

NEW DELHI:  After considering for six years if the Centre’s ambitious National Waterway-1 project on the river Ganga requires an environmental clearance, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has virtually cleared the decks for the inland waterway project, saying there is no scope for it to decide the matter as the Allahabad High Court has already decided the issue.

The HC had, in an order dated April 28, 2016, allowed the project, subject to receipt of all required statutory clearances. “Any contra order by this tribunal will be improper,” the NGT bench headed by Chairperson Justice A K Goel said.

The NGT was hearing a plea filed by Bharat Jhunjhunwala and others on whether environmental impact assessment (EIA) was necessary for navigation infrastructure on the Prayagraj-Haldia stretch of the inland waterway project. The stretch is being constructed with the 50% investment support of the World Bank.

In its order dated May 6, the NGT bench said, “The High Court has expressly referred to the issue of environmental clearance and allowed the project proponents to proceed with the project and get an environmental impact assessment conducted after commissioning of the project.”

The Tribunal, however, passed a stricture against the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) saying it failed to respond to the NGT’s calls that an expert body should look into the environmental impact of the project. “MoEF remains unrepresented. It needs to put its house in order by taking remedial action and fixing responsibility to avoid such lapses in failure.

As already suggested, for future consideration, MoEF may study and clarify the matter for technical and governance clarity for inland waterways projects,” the bench said. The Tribunal added it would be open to an aggrieved party to take remedy against any violation of environmental norms in executing the project. There has been growing concern regarding the waterways project’s impact on rivers and species, with environmental experts demanding that it be brought under EIA regime.



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