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Shifting of waste disposal site near Deepor Beel �unavoidable�

By AJIT PATOWARY

GUWAHATI, Nov 27 - The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said in its latest order on the Original Application No.472/2018 {Earlier No.19/2014 (EZ)}, Rohit Chowdhury Versus Union of India and Others, that shifting of the present municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal site of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) within the Deepor Beel area is 'unavoidable.'

This observation is made by the NGT considering the fact that the MSW disposal site lies in an extremely eco-sensitive area. Because, the NGT Principal Bench said, firstly, it is within the 'Deepor Beel,' and, secondly, it adjoins the eco-sensitive zone of the Wildlife Sanctuary.

It has also asked the Railways to file before it the action taken report 'containing specific proposals', one week after the 'emergent meeting' of the committee formed by the State government following the January 18, 2018 NGT order on the Deepor Beel issue. The NGT has also asked the respondents to file a compliance report of these directions, 'without fail,' on December 4, 2018.

The State government said in its affidavit before the NGT that the above committee, which it had formed as per the order of January 18, 2018, had held two meetings on February 23, 2018 and April 2, 2018. The culmination of the two meetings was to initiate a scientific study of the Deepor Beel to identify paths of elephant movements through the WII, Dehradun, and other issues pertaining to preservation of the Deepor Beel and also other water-bodies.

The committee directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) to submit a report to the Railway authorities and to take other safety measures within a week and prepare an action plan immediately, while, at the same time, directing the Railway authorities to prepare an action plan immediately after receiving the report from the PCCF.

The counsel for the Railways on November 20, 2018, prayed for a fortnight's time to submit the action plan. The counsel for the Railways also informed the NGT that the works on the second railway line proposed to be laid through the Deepor Beel had been stopped.

In its report, the WII, Dehradun, after appreciating the criticality of the situation pertaining to the plight of elephants, has proposed some mitigation measures. These measures include restriction of speed of the trains passing through this stretch as an immediate measure to prevent collision with elephants on the track. The WII recommended a speed limit of 30 km per hour for all the trains passing through this stretch.

It recommended regular patrolling along the railway track. It said the ongoing efforts of the State Forest Department need to be continued along this railway track on a regular basis. Designated patrolling team needs to actively patrol along this track, specifically during night time. Upon detection of elephant movement near the track, a proper mechanism should be put in place to pass on the information to the locomotive driver, said the WII.

Moreover, it recommended construction of a tunnel between Gates No.273 and 274 as the long-term solution to prevent collision with wild elephants. The railway track, after bridge number 738, passes through a bend along the edge of a hill. This stretch of the railway track, owing to its terrain, is most prone to elephant hits. In order to avoid collision with wild elephants, the possibility of excavating a tunnel through the hill, between gate numbers 273 and 274, should be explored. A track passing through the tunnel will be the long-term solution to this problem, said the WII.

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Shifting of waste disposal site near Deepor Beel �unavoidable�

GUWAHATI, Nov 27 - The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said in its latest order on the Original Application No.472/2018 {Earlier No.19/2014 (EZ)}, Rohit Chowdhury Versus Union of India and Others, that shifting of the present municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal site of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) within the Deepor Beel area is 'unavoidable.'

This observation is made by the NGT considering the fact that the MSW disposal site lies in an extremely eco-sensitive area. Because, the NGT Principal Bench said, firstly, it is within the 'Deepor Beel,' and, secondly, it adjoins the eco-sensitive zone of the Wildlife Sanctuary.

It has also asked the Railways to file before it the action taken report 'containing specific proposals', one week after the 'emergent meeting' of the committee formed by the State government following the January 18, 2018 NGT order on the Deepor Beel issue. The NGT has also asked the respondents to file a compliance report of these directions, 'without fail,' on December 4, 2018.

The State government said in its affidavit before the NGT that the above committee, which it had formed as per the order of January 18, 2018, had held two meetings on February 23, 2018 and April 2, 2018. The culmination of the two meetings was to initiate a scientific study of the Deepor Beel to identify paths of elephant movements through the WII, Dehradun, and other issues pertaining to preservation of the Deepor Beel and also other water-bodies.

The committee directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) to submit a report to the Railway authorities and to take other safety measures within a week and prepare an action plan immediately, while, at the same time, directing the Railway authorities to prepare an action plan immediately after receiving the report from the PCCF.

The counsel for the Railways on November 20, 2018, prayed for a fortnight's time to submit the action plan. The counsel for the Railways also informed the NGT that the works on the second railway line proposed to be laid through the Deepor Beel had been stopped.

In its report, the WII, Dehradun, after appreciating the criticality of the situation pertaining to the plight of elephants, has proposed some mitigation measures. These measures include restriction of speed of the trains passing through this stretch as an immediate measure to prevent collision with elephants on the track. The WII recommended a speed limit of 30 km per hour for all the trains passing through this stretch.

It recommended regular patrolling along the railway track. It said the ongoing efforts of the State Forest Department need to be continued along this railway track on a regular basis. Designated patrolling team needs to actively patrol along this track, specifically during night time. Upon detection of elephant movement near the track, a proper mechanism should be put in place to pass on the information to the locomotive driver, said the WII.

Moreover, it recommended construction of a tunnel between Gates No.273 and 274 as the long-term solution to prevent collision with wild elephants. The railway track, after bridge number 738, passes through a bend along the edge of a hill. This stretch of the railway track, owing to its terrain, is most prone to elephant hits. In order to avoid collision with wild elephants, the possibility of excavating a tunnel through the hill, between gate numbers 273 and 274, should be explored. A track passing through the tunnel will be the long-term solution to this problem, said the WII.

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