Environmental concerns raised over Paonta Sahib-Shillai road widening : The Tribune India

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Environmental concerns raised over Paonta Sahib-Shillai road widening

National Green Tribunal issues notices to state & central agencies, constitutes committee

Environmental concerns raised over Paonta Sahib-Shillai road widening

Dumping of debris along valleys is causing environmental degradation along the National Highway-707. Tribune photo



Pankaj Sharma

Nahan, February 11

The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notices to various Himachal and Central agencies as well as private contractors undertaking the widening of the Paonta Sahib-Shillai-Gumma National Highway (NH)-707 on an application filed by a local resident, who raised several environmental concerns. The Bench has noted that the petitioner has raised substantial issues relating to compliance with the provisions of the scheduled enactments.

Notices have been issued to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, state of Himachal Pradesh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of Himachal, State Pollution Control Board, Deputy Commissioners of Sirmaur and Shimla, Paonta Sahib Municipal Council, M/S ABCI Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, M/S RG Buildwell Engineers Pvt Ltd, M/S LN Malviya Infra Projects Pvt Ltd, M/S HES Infra Pvt Ltd, M/S PRL Projects and Infrastructure Ltd and Shivalik Buildtech Pvt Ltd. The matter has been listed for hearing on April 15.

The NGT in its order dated February 6 also constituted a committee for the spot inspection of the Paonta Sahib-Shillai-Gumma National Highway, which is being widened, to ascertain the veracity of allegations levelled by the petitioner.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Naathu Ram has alleged in the petition that during the widening of the highway, the contractors are destroying the Himalayan ecology and natural vegetation. They are also breaking and cutting hills on the one side of the road and throwing debris, including boulders and stones, on steep hills on the other side in the valley.

He has alleged that the entire hilly area along the 103-km highway on the downside slope comprising natural vegetation, rivers, streams, habitations and wildlife, is getting destroyed. He has also alleged that a large number of pine, deodar and other trees have been destroyed and several minor and major water streams have either been covered with debris or these have changed their course.

Nathu Ram has also alleged that the contractors have taken advantage of item 7(f) of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, by dividing the highway into smaller segments and bringing it to less than 100 km while the project is actually of 103.55 km length.

The committee has been directed to submit an action-taken report on the issues raised by the petitioner. The road is being widened at a cost of about Rs 1,500 crore in Sirmaur and Shimla districts. The committee comprises the Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Regional Officer of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Chandigarh; Member Secretary of the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board; and the Deputy Commissioners of Sirmaur and Shimla. The Sirmaur Deputy Commissioner has been directed to act as the nodal person for coordination and compliance in the committee.

#Environment #Nahan #National Green Tribunal NGT #Paonta Sahib


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