The National Green Tribunal today appointed a committee to inspect the status of dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers for construction on a stretch of Udhampur-Banihal national highway in Jammu and Kashmir. A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi constituted a committee comprising a senior scientist from the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Shimla-based Himalayan Forest Research Institute. The direction came as the plea alleged that the “state of pollution” on the national highway was such that sometimes even during the day, vehicles have to switch on their headlights to see through the dust. “The committee shall give its opinion/report regarding status of existing designated dumping sites and remedial measures of alleged illegally dumped soil along with the quantum of muck before the next hearing on April 12,” the bench said. The green panel also directed the committee to submit in its report, technical information proposed for disposal of the soil lying along the highway.
The NGT had earlier directed Jammu and Kashmir government and state pollution control board to test ambient air quality in the entire construction stretch of Udhampur-Banihal highway after a plea alleged air pollution in the area. On March 30 last year, the NGT had heard a petition filed by Ramban resident Amaresh Singh against rampant dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers and restrained the authorities from throwing debris in the water bodies while constructing the stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway between Udhampur and Banihal.
In a fresh application, Singh has alleged that after the order was passed by the tribunal, the dumping of muck and debris was stalled for a month. However, such indiscriminate dumping in the two rivers has started again. The plea, filed through advocate Swarn Kishore Singh, said the work on four-laning of the stretch of the highway was being executed in “a reckless manner” and loose soil was being dumped directly into the two rivers.