CS appears before NGT panel

Assures to personally oversee wetland action plans

Assures to personally oversee wetland action plans

Srinagar, Nov 28 (KNS): As the petition on prevention of unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment of Wullar , Hokersar and Kreentchoo Chandhara wetlands was listed recently before the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Chief Secretary of J&K Dr A K Mehta assured the tribunal that the execution of action plans will be overseen on regular basis by him along with the Commissioner Secretary Environment & Forest, J&K Govt. The NGT also directed the Chief Secretary to consider the suggestions of the petitioner Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat who has suggested that local preachers , NGOs, theatre groups and religious leaders be involved in creating awareness on conservation of Kashmir’s wetlands particularly Hokersar , Wullar and Kreentchoo Chandhara wetland reserves.

The case titled Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat vs State of J&K and others was listed before the Principal Bench of the NGT headed by Justice A K Goel on Thursday 25th November 2021. The counsel of the petitioner Advocate Saurabh Sharma who appeared on behalf of the petitioner told the NGT that Govt of J&K had not acted upon the previous orders and advisories of the tribunal as only paper work was being done and wetlands like Wullar , Hokersar in particular were being encroached and polluted by was solid / liquid waste dumping.

During the hearing following suggestions were put forward by the petitioner Dr Raja Muzaffar before the NGT principal bench through his counsel Saurabh Sharma Advocate.

1. Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir Wildlife Department, Mission Director SBM Grameen (Rural Sanitation Deptt) J&K plus Director ULB (Urban Local Bodies), Kashmir are directed to hold monthly meetings on Waste Management in Wetland areas. The monthly report will be submitted before the Tribunal.

2. Let the Joint Committee submit any orders, notifications and MoU’s signed between Wildlife Dept, Director ULB Kashmir and Directorate of Rural Sanitation, J&K (mission director Swachh Bharat Mission, Gramin)

3. Chairpersons of District Development Councils (DDCs) Budgam, Bandipora & Pulwama and Principal Secretary Rural Development J&K Govt be taken on board while executing Solid and Liquid Waste Management Programmes in Wetland villages/areas.

4. Directions be issued for measures for monitoring and assessment to determine whether the condition of wetlands is improving, neutral or declining and report to this effect be submitted to this Hon’ble Tribunal. 

In response to this NGT principal bench in its written order said: “We have noted the stand of the learned Chief Secretary, J&K that the execution of action plans will be overseen on a regular basis by Secretary Environment & Forest, J&K as well as by the Chief Secretary, J&K personally at least once in a month for further continuous action. As regards the suggestions of the applicant, the same may be duly considered by the Chief Secretary, J&K, to the extent not already considered “With regard to ensuring better water quality in the wetlands was managed the NGT order said that water quality of the wetlands with respect to BOD needs to be less than 3 mg/l, feacal coliform should meet norms and contamination due to toxic constituents either directly or through runoff from the catchment should be prevented. Biodiversity of the wetlands needs to be maintained.

The order further reads, “Monitoring of steps for compliance of Rules in relation to such Wetlands ought to be at District level by the District Magistrate, at State level by State Wetland Authority and at National level by National Wetland Authority. We are confident that such initiatives in monitoring will go a long way in protecting the Wetlands which have significant environmental functions." (KNS)

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