Demolish unauthorised structures, NGT tells MUDA

Green Tribunal move to make Wahumkhrah, Umshyrpi pollution free

Polluted Wahumkhrah river. (ST file photo)
Polluted Wahumkhrah river. (ST file photo)

SHILLONG: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Special Circuit Bench of the Eastern Zone on Thursday directed the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) to demolish all the unauthorized constructions along the banks of the Wahumkhrah and Umshyrpi rivers in accordance with the provisions of the law within three months.
NGT’s judicial member Justice U D Salvi and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee passed the order after hearing a petition filed by an environmentalist Naba Bhattacharjee.
Justice Salvi directed that the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of East Khasi Hills to extend all necessary assistance to MUDA in demolition of the unauthorized structures.
The tribunal passed this order after taking cognizance to the submission made by the State Government counsel Ranjan Mukherjee about the ruling of the Divisional Bench of the Gauhati High Court in 2011 which had permitted MUDA to carry out an inspection along the river banks of Wahumkhrah to identify various unauthorized constructions.
Interestingly, the legal counsel of Greater Iew Polo Welfare Association (GIWPA) K Paul suddenly emerged in the afternoon session of the hearing to seek clarification on the ruling of the tribunal for demolition of the unauthorized structures.
While referring to the judgment passed by the Division Bench, he said that the court in its judgment in 2011 has set aside the notices served by MUDA for demolishing of illegal structures along the Wahumkhrah River.
Earlier, petitioner Bhattacharjee put forward his views before the tribunal on the need to reclaim and protect the two highly polluted and endangered rivers, Umkhrah and Umshyrpi that crosses through the heart of the state capital.
Apart from the Meghalaya government, Bhattacharjee also wanted the tribunal to direct other government agencies and institutions including the Shillong Municipal Board, Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA), Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and others, for immediate intervention to formulate a time-bound action plan for reclamation and protection of   the rivers. The petitioner also urged the tribunal to conduct the hearing in Shillong on the issue of bio-medical waste. April 16 will be the next date of hearing to be held at Shillong.

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