GUWAHATI, Oct 21 – The Kolkata-based Eastern Zone Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today restrained the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) ‘from causing any violation in respect of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 and Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 in respect of the Deepor Beel Wet Land.’
It has also directed its registry to communicate its orders dated September 24, 2014 and October 21, 2014 to the Chief Secretary of the State so that he may submit status report with reference to the present condition of the Deepor Beel wetland by making necessary answers to the questions on whether any municipal solid waste (MSW) is being dumped to the said wetland, whether any construction activities are going on in and around Deepor Beel wetland or is going to be made, whether the GMDA and the GMC are following the rules regarding Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 and Wet Land (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 strictly with respect to Deepor Beel Wet Land.
The NGT Bench has also asked the GMDA, GMC and the Chief Secretary of the State to highlight the compliance of the sub-rule 1 (iv) of Rule 4 of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 in their replies. The respondents are asked to file their replies within four weeks and the next date of the case has been fixed on December 5 next.
The directive of the Eastern Zone NGT Bench came in the wake of an application filed by RTI as well as environment activist Rohit Choudhury, through his advocate Ritwick Dutta, in connection with MSW disposal in the West Boragaon area on the fringe of the Deepor Beel.
Choudhury said that his application is related to the protection of the Deepor Beel as a wetland ecosystem. This includes not just the area which forms part of the water body but also the zone of direct influence of the wetland, that is – the drainage area or catchment region of the wetland.
He raised the issues of unrestricted dumping of garbage and sewage on the wetland and encroachment on it and its zone of influence, including the drainage and catchment area.
He alleged violation of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 and Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 and cited the letters of the Divisional Forest Officer, Guwahati Wildlife Division, Santipur and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest to the GMC Commissioner, the observations made by the expert team of the Planning Commission on garbage dumping etc, and reports of the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA), among others, in this connection.
Choudhury prayed, among others, for a direction for immediate halt to garbage dumping and disposal of sewage, to stop any further encroachment on the wetland and a direction to the State to prepare and implement a time-bound action plan for the protection and restoration of Deepor Beel as well as its zone of influence and implement the Wetland Rules in letter and spirit.