Paving way for the notification of the Najafgarh Lake, which spans Delhi and Haryana, as a wetland, the National Green Tribunal on Monday directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to prepare an integrated Environment Management Plan of the lake, with specific budget allocations.
Until the integrated EMP, the EMPs submitted by Haryana and Delhi be enforced, it said.
Expressing hope on the inter-ministerial expert group for the lake’s conservation and protection, the tribunal headed by its Chairperson, Justice A.K. Goel (retd), while hearing the Execution Application of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), represented by its counsel Akash Vashishtha, has directed for the Wetland Rules 2017 as well as the Ministry guidelines to be strictly followed.
Significantly, the court has directed for compliance of the Supreme Court’s 2017 Balakrishnan wetlands order as well as its own order in Raja Muzaffar Bhat matter.
The National Wetlands Authority has been asked to monitor progress on the implementation of action plans by both Haryana and Delhi.
The concerned wetland authorities have been asked to submit action taken/status reports before the Tribunal by August 15.
Arguing on behalf of INTACH, Vashishtha submitted that Haryana was to submit its brief document to Union Ministry, for the purpose of notification, as per the CPCB’s report of December 13, 2021 and thereafter the notification was to be initiated.
That brief document has not been submitted till date.
“This tribunal’s own Yamuna Monitoring Committee’s report says that this Jheel is vital for preventing floods in Haryana and Delhi, with areas as high as 212.5 m remaining under submergence. Haryana’s draft EMP also states that this Jheel is a critical natural infrastructure for the region and is extremely important for ground water recharge of water-parched Haryana,” the counsel argued.
The matter was earlier disposed of in view of a statement on behalf of Haryana that the water body in question was a lake and the state was in the process of declaring it so.
Further in the order, it was directed that the water quality of the lake need to be maintained for atleast Class ‘C’ and healthy biodiversity needs to be ensured. The outlet of the Najafgarh lake which is leading to Najafgarh drain (earlier referred as Sahibi River) should remain free from sewage before it joins river Yamuna.
Earlier, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had requested the Delhi and the Haryana governments to prepare EMPs in the light of detailed gap analysis with respect to sewage, industrial effluent, waste management and other aspects such as de-weeding, desilting, removal of encroachments and infrastructure and submit these to it.