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Haphazard muck dumping pains environmentalists, Himachal govt

punjab Updated: Nov 22, 2015 21:11 IST
Kiratpur-Nerchowk national highway

The widening of the road, which passes through Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, began in the beginning of this year.(HT PHOTO)

The haphazard dumping of muck extracted during the widening of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk national highway has raised concerns for environmentalists and the Himachal government. Taking note of the same, the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB) has issued notices to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for dumping the debris along the roadside.

“We have issued notices to the NHAI and the construction firm for dumping muck along the roadside during the four laning of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk national highway,” HPSPCB secretary Vineet Kumar told Hindustan Times. The HPSPCB has sought information from the NHAI about the sites earmarked for dumping the debris extracted during the four laning of the 73km Kiratpur-Nerchowk road.

The National Green Tribunal, meanwhile, has constituted a committee of officers to keep a check on the degrading environment. The panel includes members form the ministry of environment and forest, HPSPCB and a representative officer from the forest department of the state government.

A five-member bench of NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, justice MS Nambiar, justice DK Agarwal, experts MR Vikram Singh Sajwan and Ranjan Chatterjee said, “A serious controversy is being raised in regard to dumping of muck, approval of sites and quantum of dumping at the respective sites.” The committee will conduct inspection at all the approved sites as well as the sites for which the approval is pending.

The NGT passed the order on a petition filed by ex-army man turned into a social activist Madan Lal Sharma. The committee has accused that executing company, administration and politicians were jointly flouting rules of muck dumping.

The tribunal bench, in its order, clarified that the committee would also take report whether the sites for dumping the muck are proper. The bench has also appointed HPSPCB as a nodal officer for compliance of the directions.

The matter is posted for next hearing on December 11.

The widening of the road, which passes through Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, began in the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, the HPSPCB has taken cognizance of haphazard dumping of debris at a few places along the national highway connecting Parwanoo and Solan. “We have asked our field staff to keep a check on the muck dumping,” the HPSPCB secretary added.

‘Govt failed to maintain transparency in land acquisition’

Amidst government paying no heed to its demand, The Four-lane Sangharsh Samiti once again attacked government for opaque land acquisition for widening National Highway 21.

Samiti president Brigadier Kushal Thakur said the government has failed to maintain transparency in land acquisition for the four-laning of the Nagchala-Manali stretch of the NH 21.

“The affected people have been opposing the compensation offered by the government and also met the health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, who assured to look into the matter,” he said.

Samiti general secretary Brijesh Mahant said the government was offering the compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. “Affected persons will get the compensation only two times the market rate and not four times as assured by the government,” he said.

He said the proposed acquisition for the widening of the NH 21 would displace a large number of people in rural areas. He said the notification issued by the government ignored the interest of people of the state. He said the rehabilitation and resettlement was an integral and essential component of the Land Acquisition Bill, 2013 but the state government is defying it.