After NGT’s order, joint panel concludes survey of National Highway-707 : The Tribune India

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After NGT’s order, joint panel concludes survey of National Highway-707

Investigated complaints of environmental damage along 103-km stretch

After NGT’s order, joint panel concludes survey of National Highway-707

A section of the under-construction National Highway-707, passing through Sirmaur and Shimla.



Our Correspondent

Nahan, March 23

The joint committee, formed on the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has concluded its inspection of the National Highway (NH) 707, even as it faced the ire of local villagers during the process.

THE ACCUSATIONS

  • Environmental activist and complainant Nathu Ram Chauhan had levelled serious allegations against the construction activities on NH-707, accusing the company of employing unscientific methods
  • Chauhan had also highlighted adverse environmental impact of the road widening activities, citing the use of explosives to break mountains, resulting in weakened foundations
  • He lamented the illegal felling of thousands of deodar and pine trees, posed a significant threat to forests and endangered the livelihoods of villagers in more than a dozen villages in the area

After comprehensively investigating complaints regarding environmental damage along a 103-kilometre stretch of road over the course of three days, the joint committee is now poised to submit its intensive report to the NGT.

The joint committee, tasked with probing the complaints related to environmental degradation during the construction of NH-707, has wrapped up its inspection. Over the three-day investigation period, the committee interacted with aggrieved villagers who also voiced their concerns and staged protests at various locations in Sirmaur and Shimla.

Under the ambitious Green National Highway Corridor Project (GNHCP), the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has been engaged in widening and construction activities along the NH-707 for approximately two years. The project aims to improve road connectivity for around 2.7 lakh rural residents in remote areas of Sirmaur and Shimla districts. The project, funded by the World Bank to the tune of approximately Rs 1,500 crore, has come under scrutiny following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), prompting the NGT to order an inquiry.

In coordination with the Additional District Magistrates (ADM) of Sirmaur and Shimla, a joint committee comprising officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB) conducted a thorough inspection to verify the complainant’s allegations and prepare an inquiry report.

The NGT’s Principal Bench issued notices on February 6 to private companies involved in the construction of the national highway, including agencies from Himachal and the Central Government, directing the formation of a joint committee to investigate the matter and submit a detailed report one week ahead of the next hearing on April 15.

The joint committee inspected various areas, including Rajban-Kaffota-Meenas under the coordination of the ADM of Sirmaur, and Fediz Pul-Gumma-Meenas under the coordination of the ADM of Shimla. Despite facing opposition from villagers at several locations, the committee extensively examined the site and engaged with local residents to gather first-hand information.

LR Verma, the Additional District Magistrate of Sirmaur and coordinator of the joint committee, briefed about the completion of inspections from Rajban to Fediz Pul in Sirmaur and Shimla districts.

The committee, comprising officials from the CPCB, the MoEFCC, and the HPSPCB, will soon prepare and present a detailed report to the NGT through the respective Deputy Commissioners of Sirmaur and Shimla.

#Environment #Nahan #National Green Tribunal NGT


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