Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding construction in the Shivalik range of Himalayas by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 06/02/2024

  • 06/02/2024

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Naathu Ram Vs Ministry of Road Transport and Highways & Others dated 06/02/2024.

Applicant has raised a grievance against construction in the Shivalik range of Himalayas extending up to a length of 97/103.55 kms in Himachal Pradesh undertaken by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the process of two lane upgrade with paved boulders of existing single lane Paonta Sahib – Guma section at National Highway No. 707.

The allegation of the Applicant is that during road widening and upgradation process, contractors are destroying the Himalayan ecology and natural vegetation and that they are breaking and cutting the hills on one side of the road and throwing the debris (including boulders, stones, dust, etc.) on the steep hill on the other side of the road in the valley. As per the allegation, the entire hilly area on the length of 97 km on the downside slope is getting destroyed, which includes natural vegetation, river streams, habitations, wildlife, etc. It is also alleged that crores of trees including Pine and Deodar have been destroyed and thousands of minor and major river streams have either been covered up with debris or have changed their course.

During the course of hearing, counsel appearing for the Applicant has also referred to para 7 of the OA wherein it is stated that the project has taken the advantage of Item 7(f) of the EIA Notification 2006, by segmenting NH 707 into smaller segments and bring it to less than 100 km whereas the project is actually of the length of 103.55 kms. In support of the submission, counsel for Applicant has referred to a communication, July 18, 2022 issued by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The NGT directed the constitution of a joint committee comprising representative from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB), Deputy Commissioner, Sirmaur and Deputy Commissioner, Shimla.

The Joint Committee will carry out the spot inspection, ascertain the truthfulness of the allegations made in the OA and submit a factual and action taken report at least one week before the next date of hearing, April 15, 2024.