New Delhi [India], October 1 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal has directed the concerned pollution control board to proceed with coercive measures, including assessment and recovery of compensation for the damage and initiating prosecution against the violators of environmental norms and dumping muck in Chenab River.
"The State Pollution Control Board (PCB) may accordingly proceed with coercive measures, including assessment and recovery of compensation for the damage and initiating prosecution against the violators of environmental norms, following the due process of law," an NGT bench headed by Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
The NGT accepted the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee (MC) that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the contractors have to take remedial action.
"NHAI cannot be rest content by simply saying that it has asked the contractors to take remedial action. Responsibility of NHAI to maintain environmental norms remains," NGT said, pointing out that the contractors are agencies of the NHAI and "there is no bar against the NHAI from substituting its contractors violating the law by the compliant ones."
"We are unable to accept the justification put forth by the NHAI and its contractors. The fact remains that work has been going on and even during lockdown period the responsibility for the damage cannot be altogether ignored, particularly when the damage caused is because of the activities prior to lockdown," the NGT said.
A report filed by an independent monitoring committee, headed by a former judge of the High Court, which was based on-site inspection by officers of the statutory authority, backed by photographic and other evidence, including orders of Executive magistrate recording the violations, has found a violation of environmental norms.
Taking note of the report, the NGT said: "We do not see any reason not to accept the report merely on account of self-serving and untenable denials of the contractors in question. Even NHAI has not disputed the violation but has blamed the contractors. We are, thus, unable to accept the stand of the contractors."
The committee has recommended that Project Director NHAI- PIU Ramban, Project Manager M/s Gammon Engineers & Contractors Pvt. Ltd. (GECPL), Project Manager M/s Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) Ltd. & Project Manager M/s Choudhary Power Projects Private Ltd. (CPPPL) may be prosecuted under Section-17 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for non-compliance of conditions of Environmental Clearance obtained by them for the execution of the project and for directly dumping muck in Chenab River & for causing damage to the environment in violation to NGT order dated 12-02-2019 and also levying environmental compensation on the basis of 'Polluters Pays' Principle (PPP) in terms of directions of the National Green Tribunal.
The NGT was dealing with issues relating to the remedial action against violation of environmental norms by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)
and its contractors - M/s Gammon India Limited (GIL), the Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd. (HCCL) and M/s Choudhary Power Project Pvt. Ltd. (CPPPL), sub-contractor of M/s GIL and M/s HCCL, in the course of four laning of National Highway from Udhampur to Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir. The petition was filed by one Amresh Singh. The matter has been considered by the tribunal for the last four years.
Earlier The NGT was informed by the expert committees about damage to the environment, which was taking place by dumping muck without precautions. While directing remedial action. The NGT had constituted a Monitoring Committee (MC) headed by Justice J.R. Kotwal, former Judge of J&K High Court to give an independent report on the matter. (ANI)