Industry told to stay away from Kaziranga
The National Green Tribunal has directed the state government not to grant permission to any new stone-crushing unit and other industrial units within the no-development zone of Kaziranga National Park.
The bench of the National Green Tribunal comprising chairman Justice A.S. Naidu and expert member G.K. Pandey also directed the state authorities not to renew the permission granted to stone-crusher units and other units which are functioning in the vicinity of the Kaziranga National Park till further orders.
The order was issued yesterday in which it has directed the ministry of environment and forests to file its reply before February 29 as it is a case where important questions pertaining to Kaziranga and in view of the prayer made, the reply of the ministry is very much necessary.
The interim order came as a result of an application filed by local resident Rohit Choudhury who approached the tribunal following blatant violation of the eco-sensitive area notification issued by ministry of environment and forests.
The tribunal was set up in 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests.
Choudhury who had filed an RTI on the total number of licences issued by director Kaziranga National Park was informed that licences were issued to 19 stone-crushing companies. There are 10 units which are situated within 5km of the national park. Of these 10 units, nine have been granted licences in 2011 which were valid till December 31 last year.
Of the remaining nine units which are situated between 5km and 10km of Kaziranga, seven have been granted licences in 2011 which were valid till December 2011.
Each of the 19 units has been granted pollution-clearance certificates.
The ministry of environment and forests in its reply to the RTI application said its wildlife division did not have any information on the stone-crushing units and no clearances had been granted in the vicinity of the national park.
The ministry in 1996 had issued a notification earmarking an area of 15km from Numaligarh Refinery as a “no-development zone”. The ministry had forwarded the query to its pollution control division which said that a stone crusher may not require environmental clearances under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The replies from the wildlife division and pollution control division of the ministry did not make any reference to the ministry’s own notification (1996) which requires its approval before any unit leading to pollution is set up in the no-development zone.
In 2010, an independent team was constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India to look into the complaints made against environmental degradation in the hill areas of Karbi Anglong near Kaziranga.
The team had found several stone-crushing machines next to the forest area and inside the reserve forest under the Dolamara range of Karbi Anglong.