Riverfront makeover hits a bump

  • Soumen Datta, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Feb 14, 2015 13:07 IST

In a landmark judgment, the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s East Zone bench on Friday issued ‘immediate and indefinite injunction’ for all types of construction works across the banks of the Hooghly which did not have proper permission from the appropriate authorities.

The bench even stopped beautification work on the riverbank done by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Suthority (KMDS). Environment activists Subhash Datta filed a petition before the bench alleging that illegal construction works are going on along the riverbank. Even the riverbed was encroached to make a pathway as the riverbank was already encroached by a private floating hotel near Millennium Park. Datta also alleged that the car parking near Nimtala Ghat had encroached the riverbed and this violated all rules.

“None of the development works obtained the mandatory Environ Impact Sssessment (EIS) or Environ Management Plan (EMP) duly approved by the state-level environment committee,” said Datta in his petition. The East Zone bench comprising Justice Pratap Kumar Roy and Dr PC Mishra, in the order, issued an immediate and indefinite injunction on construction work on the riverbanks, which did not have EIS or EMP.

“The bench has sought a status report from authorities like chief secretary of the state government, KMDS, Kolkata Improvement Trust (KIT), Kolkata Port Trust (KPT), Kolkata Municipal Corporation ( KMC), Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC), Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the National River Ganga Basin Suthority (NRGBS) regarding construction on the riverbanks. The detailed status report would be on how many of the constructions have legal validity and how many of them are illegal. The report must be tabled within three weeks,” said SK Senapati, registrar of the East Zone bench. The bench has directed the chairman of KPT to submit a report on construction across the riverbanks. This report has to mention whether permission from the KPT was taken for the construction.

Sccording to the rules, KPT is the custodian of the river and riverbanks from Sagar to Farakka. In its order, the bench also directed the state PCB to verify whether the Sffluent Treatment Plant of a floating hotel on the Hooghly is properly functioning. “If not, the PCB must take necessary action to close down the floating hotel,” said the order.

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