Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding fly ash barge capsizing incidents in river Hooghly in West Bengal, 19/10/2020
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum Vs Inland Waterways Authority of India & Others dated 19/10/2020.
The matter related to frequent capsizing of barges carrying fly-ash on the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route which flows through the highly eco-sensitive and fragile Sundarbans in the State of West Bengal. It is stated that the riverine ecology has been disturbed due to such incidents as mostly old, worn out and dilapidated barges are being plied and that the activities are being undertaken in violation of CPCB guidelines issued in 2013.
Further although the Inland Waterways Authority of India, which is responsible for ensuring safe and proper transport of cargo on the said route, has admitted such facts, no measures has been taken to identify the responsible barge owners and initiate appropriate legal action against them as there is no mechanism to deal with such increasing incidents.
The NGT directed the constitution of a Committee comprising:
i. The CPCB
ii. The State Pollution Control Board
iii. The PCCF Wildlife, Government of West Bengal
iv. District Magistrate, South 24 Parganas
The Committee would verify on the factual aspects set out in the application after physical verification of the area in question and submit a report. The Committee has also been asked to examine the factors giving rise to the situation and suggest measures to prevent the occurrence of such incidents and also mitigation measures in respect of fly ash already split in the waterway.