GUWAHATI, June 8 – The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the authorities concerned to take action on the industrial units located around the Kaziranga National Park. There are 64 industrial units located in the ‘No Development Zone’ (NDZ) of the National Park as has been reported by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
The NGT has directed the Assam Government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council not to create any disturbance and cooperate with the MoEF in this respect. Hearing an application filed by Assam-based RTI and environmental activist Rohit Choudhury, the NGT recently (onMay 23), directed the authorities to take necessary action on industrial units operating in the NDZ around the National Park.
The No Development Zone was notified in 1996 by the MoEF under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as a condition of environmental clearance granted to the Numaligarh Refinery which came up towards the eastern boundary of the park. As per the notification, no industry can be set up in the NDZ without prior approval of the Central Government. Further to an order passed by the NGT on April 19, 2012, the MoEF filed an affidavit stating that – “A total of 64 units, i.e. stone crushers – 26, brick kilns – 14, tea estates – 12, miscellaneous units – 12 are existing in this NDZ under reference.”
The Environment Ministry also sought further time for carrying out a detailed inspection for submitting a final report to the NGT.
Responding to the MoEF affidavit, the NGT order dated May 23, 2012 states: “...After going thtrough the affidavit, filed by MoEF, wherein it has been clearly stated that 64 units are existing in the NDZ as on date, we have no hesitation to direct the authorities to take necessary action with regard to functioning of the aforesaid units. However, with regard to the 12 tea estates, it s made clear that if there is no processing units or boilers existing, they should be left for the time being.”
The Tribunal, however, clarified that this order is only for the interim period and that all affected unit holders have the liberty to file detailed counters and ask for modification of the order if exigency arises. The NGT also directed the MoEF to furnish all the names of units which are operating within 500 metres of the outer periphery of the NDZ, along with reports of compliance of these industrial units with existing environmental standards and safeguards, said a press release here issued by Rohit Choudhury.