No Construction in Area Around Okhla Bird Sanctuary: NGT

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today directed Noida and Gautam Budh Nagar authorities to ensure that no construction work is carried out in the 49 projects around the Okhla bird sanctuary.

A bench comprising judicial members justices P Jyothimani and S N Hussain also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) to file their replies on a plea for prevention of construction within 10 km from sanctuary or face “coercive steps”.

“We make it very clear the earlier order restraining the construction without proper authority shall be implemented scrupulously and the respondent 7 (District Magistrate) and respondent 8 (Senior Superintendent of Police) are directed to see the restriction is implemented and no further construction is done in respect of 49 units.”

“Respondent 1 (MoEF) as well as respondent 5 (NBWL) seeks time to file reply. The said respondents shall file replies by the next date of hearing failing which coercive steps will be taken against the said respondents. It is made clear that MoEF in its reply shall clearly state the areas which are within 10 kilometres from the Okhla bird sanctuary,” the bench said.

The tribunal passed the order after it was informed by the Noida authority that around 49 builders are engaged in construction activities in the area with requisite clearances.

The bench, however, directed the authority to “file all particulars and details relating to the 49 projects including the source from where they draw water for their project, by the next date of hearing.”

The Noida authority, meanwhile, also submitted it would take steps to ensure no further constructions are carried out by the said projects.

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 a 10-km radius of the Okhla bird sanctuary, claimed to be an eco-sensitive zone.

The application, 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.

Amit Kumar 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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