Stop dharnas, public speeches at Jantar Mantar immediately: NGT to Delhi govt

The tribunal directed the authorities to shift the protesters and the people holding dharna to an alternative site at the Ramleela Grounds in Ajmeri Gate.
People participating in a protest against the killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 7.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)
People participating in a protest against the killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 7.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 05, 2017 11:43 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday banned protests and demonstrations at the iconic Jantar Mantar with immediate effect, saying that such activities violate environmental laws.

The NGT’s verdict came on a plea filed by one Varun Seth and some other residents of the area where the 18th century monument is located. They said processions and agitations by different organisations and political parties on the Jantar Mantar Road were a major source of noise pollution in the neighbourhood.

A bench headed by Justice RS Rathore directed the authorities to shift protesters “forthwith” to an alternative site at the Ramleela grounds in Ajmeri Gate.

Jantar Mantar – an area outside to the protected monument’s premises -- was chosen as a protest site in 1993 after the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid movement raised security concerns and the government banned protests at previous demonstration site, the Boat Club at India Gate.

In the recent past, some of the major agitations that have taken place at Jantar Mantar include Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption, retired army personnels’ One Rank One Pension movement, and the Not in My Name protests.

The NGT ordered the chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Council, commissioner of Delhi Police and the state government to file compliance reports within five weeks.

The NDMC was directed to remove all makeshift and temporary structures, loud speakers and public address systems from the stretch of the road. Garbage strewn on the streets would have to be removed and the area cleaned within four weeks.

The green panel observed that the authorities have failed to protect the right of enjoying pollution-free environment of the citizens living around the Jantar Mantar area, which is close to the heart of the city. .

The bench also said that it was the duty of the state to ensure that the rights of the people to live a peaceful and comfortable life are not infringed by those who create noise pollution in the name of their right of freedom of speech and expression.

“It is clear that the petitioners are suffering because of gross violation of laws, air pollution and health hazards due to lack of cleanliness and non performance of duty by the authorities of the State which is endangering their life,” the bench observed.

The tribunal also said that the neighbourhood has completely changed, where one finds that men, women and children are bathing, washing their clothes under Delhi Jal Board tankers and the situation becomes worse when the people defecate in the open, on pavements, which creates an unhygienic condition on the stretch of road.

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