NGT asks MoEF&CC to further study National Waterway 1 on Ganga

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to study and clarify the technical and Governance clarity for Inland Waterways projects, in a major push to the Allahabad to Haldia National Waterway 1 (NW1) on Ganga river.

The bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was dealing with the matter regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for navigation infrastructure in the River Ganga in the NW1, undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

As the present project is concerned, the Allahabad High Court order dated April 28, 2016, clinches the matter and in the face of the said order, there is no scope for this Tribunal to consider the matter as far as this project is concerned. The High Court has expressly referred to the issue of EC and allowed the PP to proceed with the project and get EIA conducted after commissioning of the project, said the order passed on May 4.

The green court also said any contra order by this Tribunal will be improper. Even if the order of the High Court proceeded on the statement of Counsel, the same has been operative for six years and this Tribunal is not the forum to question the same. As already suggested, for future consideration, MoEF&CC may study and clarify the matter for technical and Governance clarity for Inland Waterways projects, it said.

It will, however, be open to an aggrieved party to take remedy against any violation of environmental norms in executing the project, in accordance with the law, the order added.

The project envisages developmental activities such as river terminals, jetties and locks and barrages, and multimodal river water terminals along with necessary dredging operations. It was estimated to cost Rs 4,200 crores, to be completed in six years.

The project is under the National Waterway (Allahabad – Haldia Stretch of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River) Act, 1982, for the regulation and development of River Ganga for shipping and navigation on the National Waterway Ganga-Bhagirathi- Hooghly River.

The Indian Water Transport can be developed as a fuel-efficient, cost-effective, and environment-friendly mode of transport to supplement the overburdened rail and congested roads. The project is funded by the World Bank and in the process undergoes a rigorous environmental and social safeguard evaluation, which not only mandates the compliance of the country systems but also adds global parameters and safeguards from the environmental and social safeguards standpoints.

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