The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the Gujarat government for alleged violation of environmental norms in the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue project.
The Pune-based tribunal is hearing a petition filed by a group of 10 people from Gujarat, who claimed the state government did not entertain their applications seeking information about the project. They have demanded work on the statue to be stopped.
According to the petition, the construction of the statue began without formal permissions from competent authorities. It is mandatory for the state to conduct a public hearing while giving permission for such projects, but it was never done, the petition alleges. The petitioners have also demanded action against officials who are allowing the project to come up without following legal procedure.
The petitioners have pointed out that Sadhu Island, where the statue is being built, is near the Narmada river and dam, in an eco-sensitive zone. Lakhs of people will visit the site after statue is completed, which will disturb the area’s bio-diversity, they have argued. They have also alleged that six Advasi families were forcibly evicted from the site, in violation of their constitutional rights.
A bench of justice S Kinjgaokar and justice Dr Ajay Deshpande has asked the Gujarat government to submit its reply by May 8.
In addition, notices have been issued to the all the parties involved in the project, such as the chairman of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, the Gujarat state environment assessment committee and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust. The firm L&T, which has been awarded the project contract worth around Rs 3,000 crore, has also been issued a notice.