Common Cause and Lokniti Programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), launched India’s first Status of Policing in India Report (SPIR 2018) at the India Habitat Centre on May 9.Read More+
O.A. 431/2018 tagged with O.A. 99/2018
Chardhaam Road-Widening Project
Common Cause had filed its OA on July 3, 2018, under Section 14, 15 and 18 of the NGT Act, 2010. The OA pointed out that due to the widening of NH108 as part of the Chardhaam Project, debris and muck were being directly dumped into the Bhagirathi river and that the requirement of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was bypassed by dividing the 900 km road project into stretches measuring less than 100 km each. Warning of impending disasters, particularly during the monsoon months, the petition said that the indiscriminate dumping of the muck may lead to altering the course of the river besides causing excessive pollution, landslides and floods.
The OA also sought directions, among others, on following the principles of road design in the hill areas, and submission of a time-bound muck disposal plan.
On July 10, 2018, a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notices to the Environment Ministry, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways and the Uttarakhand Government. In the hearing on August 8, 2018, Union of India filed a counter-affidavit saying proper muck disposal was being done under the project and that there was no requirement for an Environmental Clearance as all the individual projects were under 100 km in length. Common Cause was asked by the Court to file an affidavit with its submissions.
On September 17, 2018 the matter was tagged with the case of Citizens for Green Doon, before being disposed of on September 26, 2018.
In response to a Common Cause petition, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has appointed a seven-member committee to monitor violation of road construction rules and to address environmental concerns in the Chardhaam Project. The four-judge Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel also held that while no development project is acceptable at the cost of endangering human health and public safety, it is important to allow plans that are executed by respecting safeguards, for larger public interest.
The Bench on September 26, 2018 said that a Special Secretary will be appointed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to lead this Committee. The Committee will also feature representatives from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development, National Institute of Disaster Management, Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun and Uttarakhand Forest department officials, among others.
The Tribunal further held that de-hors the notification dated 14th September, 2006, rapid Environmental Impact Assessment and preparation of Environmental Management Plant is necessary which has detailed elaboration on slope stabilization, muck disposal and muck management compensatory afforestation, disaster management, etc. is still necessary having regard to the nature and location of the project and potential impact on environment. It held that such Rapid EIA must take into account all aspects of air quality, stabilisation of slopes, identification of landslide hotspots, construction of green roads, muck disposal arrangements, compulsory afforestation, including the requirement of transplanting trees instead of felling trees wherever possible, disaster management and preparedness measures.
The Tribunal noted the poor mechanism for muck disposal in the project and held: " the structural stability of muck dumping sites is not upto the mark and we feel that with so much of muck/debris load there is every possibility of some caving in during excessive landslides and other natural disasters. Therefore, stabilizing such sites with Gabion wall/Crate wires at places where load is less seems to be adequate but in high load bearing sites, augmented RCC structures followed by strengthening by way of grids through engineering and bio-engineering methods would stabilize such sites. State Government to also notify Debris Dumping Policy which includes details of environmental restoration and restitution. The Committee shall also look into disaster management and disaster preparedness measures."
The matter was disposed off with the above directions on 26 September 2018.