NGT forms fresh committee on natural conservation zones

The symbol of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Representative Image. (File Photo)

The National Green Tribunal constituted a fresh committee on Friday to look into the question of whether sub-regional plans for protection of Natural Conservation Zones (NCZs) were consistent with the regional plan prepared by the National Capital Region Planning Board.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the committee would comprise representatives of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), National Remote Sensing Centre, Forest Survey of India as also Revenue secretaries and Principal Chief Conservators of Forest of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan.

"By way of precaution, we direct that no landmarked to be part of NCZ by the NCRPB may be diverted for any other purpose without the permission of NCRPB till March 20, 2020. The nodal agency will be the MoEF. The exercise is conducted with reference to the database of 1999. The report may be furnished within three months by e-mail," said the bench, also comprising Justices S P Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan. 

The fresh committee was formed due to irreconcilable differences between the states and the NCRPB.

The tribunal had earlier slammed the MoEF for the delay in informing it whether sub-regional plans, prepared by states for the protection of NCZs, were consistent with the regional plan prepared by the National Capital Region Planning Board.

The NGT said that if the report was not being furnished by the states, sufficient time was available to ask the Chief Secretaries of these states to do the needful.

The tribunal had on August 7 last year noted that some of the states had not completed the work of delineation of NCZ and directed the preparation of such plans and a joint committee headed by the MoEF to examine the question whether the sub-regional plans are consistent with the regional plan prepared by NCRPB.

Earlier, in an affidavit filed before the tribunal, the NCRPB had submitted that there was shrinkage in NCZs such as forests, water bodies, and wastelands in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi.

It has said that NCRPB after perusing the variations shown in an analysis done by the National Remote Sensing Centre immediately acted upon the observations and sent letters to participating states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi and sought response for such shrinkage.

According to the NCRPB, the shrinkage of NCZ in the Haryana sub-region is 25.97 percent, 15.43 percent in NCT of Delhi, 43.88 percent in Uttar Pradesh sub-region and 11.18 percent in Rajasthan sub-region.

The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by the Legal Aid Committee National Green Tribunal Bar Association against the alarming rate of depletion of NCZs in NCR.

It had sought directions to check the alleged diversion of the area marked as NCZ by the NCRPB in the regional plan.

The plea had alleged that states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan had diverted the NCZ area in violation of the original plan while preparing sub-regional plans and such diversion would adversely affect the environment.

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