The National Green Tribunal has granted permission to NHAI to build a bridge and approach roads over the Yamuna river for Delhi-Meerut Expressway noting the project “will aid environment rather than harming it”.
The green panel cleared the decks for the project after taking into account the recommendation of Principal Committee, constituted by the NGT for Yamuna Revitalisation, which said that “project may be allowed” subject to fulfilling of certain conditions including increasing the cost of monitoring during construction phase of bridge by nearly Rs 2.5 crore.
“This plan was also considered by the Principle Committee and the Principle Committee recommended the said project mainly on the ground that the project will aid the environment rather than harming it subject to prescribed conditions recommended being complied with. We, therefore do not see any impediment in granting permission as solicited.
“We, therefore, permit applicant and there concessionaire/ contractors and other officers, agents and representatives from carrying out necessary construction for expansion of existing Nizamuddin bridge, Ring road in terms of the proposed project. Subject to strict compliance of the conditions recommended by the Principle Committee,” a bench headed by Justice U D Salvi said.
Counsel appearing for National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) assured the bench that it would appoint IIT- Roorkee or Delhi for monitoring and supervision of environmental management plan during construction stage.
The Principal Committee, headed by Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, had recommended that project proponent should save “as many trees” as possible and no wetland area on the floodplains should be disturbed during the construction phase.
The Principal Committee also comprises Special Secretary of MoEF, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, Delhi Chief Secretary, DDA, Delhi Jal Board, municipal corporations, Commissioner and others.
Professors C R Babu, A K Gosain, Brij Gopal and A A Kazmi of IIT-Roorkee are also members of the Principal Committee, which also said that strong iron marshes of 8 inch height should be erected along the proposed bridge to stop the public from throwing solid waste in the Yamuna.
The order came on a plea filed NHAI plea seeking NGT’s nod for building of bridges and approach roads over Yamuna.
In its plea, NHAI had said that currently the route between Delhi and Meerut (NH-58) had frequent jams causing lot of inconvenience to traffic between the two cities and the project will reduce the time of travel to 40-45 minutes from three hours at present.
NHAI had moved NGT in view of a 2015 order saying that construction of “new barrages and roads, railway and metro bridges and embankments and bunds” should not be permitted.
However, in exceptional cases, “a critical impact of their potential impact on flood aggravation and environmental clearances should be made mandatory”, it had said.
The Delhi-Meerut Expressway will be built through public- private-partnership mode and slated to be operational by March 2018. The project starts from National Highway-2 at Ring Road in Delhi and ends at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.