The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to protect the flora and fauna in Greater Noida’s Dadri wetlands and ensure that there is no encroachment in the eco-sensitive area. Refusing to cancel the environment clearance granted to Uttam Steels and Associates (Consortium) and the Shiv Nadar University, the green panel directed both to preserve the existing low-lying land in the area. “We direct that the area which are low-lying, should be protected by Respondent No 5 (Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority), 6 (Uttam Steels) and 7 (University). UP government should also give an undertaking for preservation of the habitat of the aquatic flora and fauna. “It should be strictly ensured that no encroachment takes place. Both these institutions need to be saddled with the responsibility of preserving the low-lying area in perpetuity, while running their institutions, so that the avian habitat is preserved for good,” the bench said.
The tribunal refused to agree with the claim by the petitioners that two of their buildings were located on wetlands as the area is not declared as a wetland as per the rules by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It noted that the UP government had acquired this land in 2006-07 and allocated it through UPSIDC for construction of the Hi-Tech University and Shiv Nadar University and there was no justification to seek withdrawal of the environment clearance granted to these entities.
The NGT directed the forest department of UP to carry out suitable afforestation in the marshy areas of the region and ordered setting up of a monitoring committee by the state government to ensure compliance of environmental norms in the Dadri area to prevent any further encroachment. “No domestic sewage should be permitted to flow into the water bodies and any domestic sewage flowing into the Beels should be diverted into the sewerage network or trapped by constructing individual septic tanks by the households, the township and the University, as the case may be. This shall be enforced in consultation with the UP Jal Nigam. Both M/s HiTech Township and Shiv Nadar University will give an undertaking to this effect,” it said.
The judgement was pronounced on the plea of two environment activists Akash Vashishtha and Vikrant Tongad who had alleged that the Dadri wetlands are being destroyed due to activity of builders and others. The wetlands, also called as Bil Akbarpur wildlife habitat, is home to the protected black buck species, Nilgai and over 200 species of migratory and resident birds. In their petition, they had accused the government of inaction and “dragging their feet” in the matter and not doing anything to prevent the “massive damage to these wetlands” caused by the builders.