Colleges near Agra fined 10 Cr

A penalty of Rs 10 crore has been imposed on two engineering colleges for pollution and illegal construction close to the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary on the Agra-Delhi national highway, an official said on Thursday.

The Uttar Pradesh forest department has raised objections to unauthorised buildings coming up near the reserved forest, about 20 km from Agra.

"We have inspected the points from where effluents, wastes were being released into the Keitham reservoir and found them contaminating the whole water body.

‘They have put up high mast lights which disturb the birds. We have sent notices and asked for immediate remedial measures," divisional forest officer N K Janu said. Janu said provisions of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and Forest (Conservation) Act had been violated.

The notices were first sent a decade ago but no action was taken to stop the pollutants from entering the water body in the heart of the reserved forest.

The lake is surrounded by a bird sanctuary, a python point, dense forest and world's biggest rescue centre for sloth bear. The buildings have come up without permission from appropriate authorities, said Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board regional officer B B Awasthi.

The issue came to notice when a member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee, D K Joshi, visited the area last year and discovered that the hostels, canteens and the college buildings were regularly releasing waste directly into the biggest lake in the state.

"It's amazing that for 10 years the forest department and the pollution control board were sleeping.

‘Only when I visited the area and demanded action, they have sent notices. The police is not registering an FIR. It looks like senior officials have been mobilised to underplay the gross violation of environmental laws," Joshi said.

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