Government has informed the National Green Tribunal that it has issued a notification for regulating developmental activities on the floodplains of River Ganga and its tributaries.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) told the green panel that the Ministry of Water Resources has issued a notification on October 7, 2016 which provides for protection of flood plain, its demarcation and activities which can be carried out in such eco-sensitive areas.
Taking note of the submissions, a bench headed by NGT chief Justice Swatanter Kumar disposed of a plea by an environment activist claiming that construction of concrete farmhouses, plots, colonies and commercial setups in the river bed damages natural environment and posed a grave hazard to human life.
“Counsel appearing for the Respondents, State and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have brought to our notice that the Notification dated October 7, 2016 has been issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation which provides for protection of flood plain, fixation thereof and the activity which can be carried out in the flood plain.
“In the light of the above, the present application has been rendered infructuous. The parties are free to take appropriate steps in furtherance thereof including, if anybody wishes to challenge the same in accordance with law. The States and Centres are free to act with the notification in accordance with law,” the bench said.
Environmentalist Akash Vashishtha had contended in a plea that apart from obstructing the natural course of two rivers, the constructions exerted massive stress on the river’s ecosystem due to discharge of huge amounts of waste.
According to the notification, the bank of river Ganga and its flood plain “shall be construction free zone to reduce pollution sources, pressures and to maintain its natural ground water recharge functions”.
In cases where construction has been completed before the issuance of notification, “National Mission for Clean Ganga shall review such constructions to examine whether they caused interruption in the continuous flow of water or polluted the river or its tributaries, and if that be so, it shall cause for removing them.”
“No person shall construct any structure, whether permanent or temporary for residential or commercial or industrial or any other purposes in the Ganga, bank of Ganga or its tributaries or active flood plain area of river Ganga or its tributaries,” the notification said.