New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal Friday directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ghaziabad Development Authority to show whether they have any comprehensive guidelines for concretisation of landscapes in urban areas.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar directed the MoEF and GDA to "file an affidavit stating whether there are complete and comprehensive guidelines and if so, how are they being enforced."
The Tribunal also asked GDA to show if they require any environmental clearance from the MoEF or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) before carrying out any concretisation or tiling of the landscape.
It also asked the GDA if it was following the policy of leaving some area for water to seep in.
The Tribunal was hearing a petition filed by Akash Vashishtha, an environmentalist, who had submitted that nearly 40 percent of the surface area of Raj Nagar District park in Ghaziabad, UP, has been covered by constructions in violation of the condition that only five per cent be concretised.
After looking at the pictures of landscape in Ghaziabad being concretised and tiled, the bench remarked, "If you (GDA) see what you are doing, the concretisation you are doing, it will take more time for water to seep in. You will imbalance the ground water.
"Look at the pictures. You must leave some space for water to seep in."
The counsel appearing for GDA informed the bench that the tiles they are using has grooves where they are interlocked and this allows water to seep in and it is fixed with loose gravel and not cement.
At this, the chair said, "Are you sure you are doing what you are saying?"It also sought to know if the tiles being used are porous.
Vashishtha has alleged that the "extensive and mindless" tiling or concretisation of the land is not only preventing rain water from recharging the ground water but also "choking" trees to death and leading to rise in temperature.
The petition, which seeks a stop on tiling activities across the country, has contended concretisation is being carried out in violation of the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation`s guidelines providing for greening and landscaping of urban areas.
The guidelines prohibit excessive tiling of pavements except those with heavy foot traffic, direct use of porous materials for the purpose and its other norms also provide that a minimum area of 6 x 6 ft around trees be left uncemented, the petition said.
Vashishtha, in his plea, also alleged that due to the concretisation, there has been a substantial fall in ground water level in Ghaziabad as per records of CGWA which has declared it as a critical area.