PUNE: The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the National Green Tribunal 's ( NGT ) order of July 30 that imposed a Rs 25 lakh environment compensation cost on the Wai Municipal Council in Satara district for concreting work in the prohibited area within the blue line of the Krishna river .
"On merits, we find no ground to interfere with the impugned (under challenge) order passed by the NGT," the SC bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice M R Shah said in an order on August 30. "The construction has been made by the Wai Municipal Council within the blue line of the river Krishna. No construction activity could have been undertaken due to prohibition of construction in such area," the bench observed.
The SC, however, modified the green tribunal's order "with respect to utilization of environmental compensation" by directing that the Rs25 lakh cost be deposited with the (Satara district) collector (instead of the Central Pollution Control Board) and the same be used for natural landscaping and garden. "After spending the requisite amount for landscaping and garden, the remainder amount would be utilized for construction of sewage treatment plant," the SC order stated.
A government resolution (GR) issued on May 3, 2018, by the state water resources department had laid down guidelines regarding work that can be taken up in the prohibitive zone of river beds. The GR enables works like natural landscaping, garden and agricultural activity in the river bed for maintaining natural environment of rivers.
An expert committee, which inspected the river bed, had concluded in its report to the NGT that concreting work was done within the prohibited zone, which hampered the ground seepage and biodiversity at the river bed. There is mixing of seepage and drain water resulting into growth of hydrophytes in the muddy area. Apart from recommending the Wai civic body to take up the work for a sewage treatment plant, the committee had cited the May 3, 2018, GR in relation to the works allowed within the prohibited zone.
The SC has directed the collector to submit a compliance report before the NGT within three months from the date of deposit of the environment compensation amount.
NGO Jeevitnadi Living River Foundation and others had moved the NGT against the concreting work within the prohibited zone of river Krishna in Wai. The NGT had then appointed a joint expert committee for conducting a site visit and submitting a report on the matter. Based on the expert panel's report, the NGT had imposed the Rs 25 lakh cost on the Wai civic body. However, the civic body preferred a civil appeal against the same in the SC.
After Ganga, Godavari and Bramhaputra, Krishna is the fourth longest river stretching almost 1,400km long. It originates from Mahabaleshwar near Jor village in Wai taluka of Satara district in the west and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladeevi near Koduru in Andhra Pradesh on the east coast after flowing through Karnataka and Telangana states.