Re: Uttarakhand disaster information
Green tribunal asks tough questions on Uttarakhand development
Author(s): Kumar Sambhav S
Date:Jul 2, 2013
Issues show-cause notice to state government, environment ministry; seeks
details on development plans, environmental impact studies, preventive
In the wake of the disaster in Uttarakhand, the National Green Tribunal
(NGT) has questioned the manner in which indiscriminate developmental
activities have been carried out in the ecologically fragile regions of the
state. In a show-cause notice issued on July 2, the tribunal has asked the
state government and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to
place on record the 'basis on which massive construction has been raised on
The tribunal issued the show-cause notice in response to a petition filed by
the Legal Aid Committee (LAC), an association of lawyers. "Having being
mindful of the damage caused to the ecology and environment of state of
Uttarakhand, it is a matter which certainly calls for interference by the
specialized tribunal like National Green Tribunal," said NGT in the
Tribunal holds state accountable
The tribunal has asked the state that whether permission to carry out such
constructions was backed by any data, study or master/zonal development
plans declared by the state of Uttarakhand. It also asked whether any study
had been carried out by the state in relation to environment and likelihood
of damage to environment, as well as loss of forest cover as a result of
rampant road and building construction.
NGT has also asked the state to put on record what precautionary measures
are being taken to ensure such "ecological and environmental disaster does
not re-occur." The state and the MoEF have also been asked to place on
record the list of the projects which are pending for clearance by the
respective agencies and the extent of ecological and environmental impact
arising from such projects.
"There have been several rules and regulations in place to protect
ecologically fragile regions in the state, but none of them have been ever
considered. For instance, the Uttarakhand River Valley Protection Act calls
for regulated development in the river valley as per a master plan, but it
has not been followed. We wanted to bring this to the notice of the
tribunal," said environment lawyer Sanjay Upadhyay, in-charge of LCA, the
"Since now the court has asked for it, we hope that whatever ecological
studies and impact assessment report have been done on the state will be
brought to light. This will help build understanding for a sensible
rebuilding of the state," he added.
The notice has also been issued to the National Disaster Management
Authority, India Meteorological Department, Disaster Management and
Mitigation Centre in Dehradun, Central and the State Pollution Control
Boards, Archaeological Survey of India, Border Roads Organisation and the
National Highway Authority of India.
Uttarakhand: Debris forces river to change courseDC | Rashme Sehgal | 22nd Aug 2013
New Delhi: Experts believe that one of the key reasons why rivers in Uttarakhand are changing course is due to the accumulation of debris from largescale construction and mining going on along their banks.
Prof Shekhar Pathak, historian and expert on the Himalayan region, pointed out that the construction boom fuelled illegal sand and boulder mining from riverbeds across the Himalayan belt. This largescale extraction changed the slope of the riverbed forcing it to change its course.
Prof Pathak cited the example of Alaknanda river changing its course abruptly in June which saw it flowing through the Srinagar city. The huge quantity of silt and boulders that it was carrying saw its banks being raised by 40 feet.
The environment ministry and the PMO had been repeatedly warned against muck being allowed to accumulate along the river banks often because of the construction of huge tunnels to build the run-of-the- river dams thereby forcing the river to flow at higher levels.
Each of these projects generates millions of tonnes of muck. Scientists have calculated that one hydro project requires several lakhs truckloads to remove this muck. The cheapest way out is to dump this waste material into a river, he added.
This was confirmed by geologist Dr Naveen Junyal with the Physical Research Laboaratory, in Ahmedabad who pointed out that the massive 1893 and the 1970 floods in the Alaknanda did not rec-ord such high levels. The situation remains same with other rivers including the Mandakini, the Bhagirathi and the Dhauli Ganga.