UP govt asked to show Okhla is a notified bird sanctuary
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Tuesday directed Uttar Pradesh government to show the order by which Okhla bird sanctuary has been notified as a sanctuary under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, as claimed by the state and environment ministry.
A bench headed by Justice P Jyothimani asked the state government to provide the information after 49 builders, whose projects near the sanctuary were halted by the tribunal on September 18, claimed that the area has not been notified as protected.
The builders contented that since the sanctuary has no notified eco-sensitive zone nor is it itself notified as a protected area, therefore, any project coming up within 10 kilometers of it will not have to seek clearance or approval of the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL).
They also claimed that the issue of construction around the sanctuary was brought before the Supreme Court which in 2010-2011 had allowed the projects to go ahead.
They said that they have spent a lot of money on their projects which have been halted for no fault of theirs.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Uttar Pradesh government and the petitioner, on whose plea the projects were stayed, contended the area had been notified as a sanctuary back in 1990 and as such the 10 km rule given in the ministry`s 2006 notification would apply.
The ministry`s 2006 notification provides that any project which comes up within 10 km radius of a protected area- sanctuary or national park- will need clearance from the NBWL.
The MoEF also said that while notification of the eco- sensitive zone by a state government is pending, any project coming up within 10 kilometer of any sanctuary or national park would require clearance from NBWL.
After hearing the arguments, the bench agreed that the builders have not committed any fault, but observed that most of their projects do fall within the 10 km radius of sanctuary.
During the proceedings, MoEF also informed the bench that it has repeatedly issued circulars which say any project coming up near a sanctuary or national park are required to get clearance from the NBWL.
It made the submission in reply to the tribunal`s query as to why the ministry has so far not amended its 2006 notification so that seeking clearance from NBWL, prior to beginning a project near a sanctuary or national park, becomes mandatory.
On September 18, the NGT had directed the Noida and Gautam Budh Nagar authorities to ensure that no construction work is carried out in the 49 projects around the Okhla bird sanctuary.
The tribunal was hearing the plea of Noida resident Amit Kumar who sought prevention of the allegedly illegal and unauthorised construction being undertaken by builders within the 10-km radius of the Okhla bird sanctuary, claimed to be an eco-sensitive zone.
The petition, filed through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, contended that without obtaining any prior clearance from the NBWL or State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), around 55 builders are carrying on construction work around the sanctuary.
It was also alleged that Uttar Pradesh government has not bothered to notify the sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone, despite intervention of the Supreme Court and repeated requests of the MoEF.
Kumar has also contended that as per the Wildlife Conservation Strategy-2002, adopted by the NBWL, lands falling within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be notified as eco zones under the Environment Protection Act and Environment Protection Rules.
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