NGT directs Railways to fix timeframe to construct tunnel at Deepor Beel area

GUWAHATI: The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal has directed the Railway authorities as well as the Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoFE) to file an affidavit within two months (by June 30) time informing about the time that will be required to construct a tunnel to lay the railway line on the stretch through the forest land falling under Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary, a Ramsar Site, to facilitate free movement of wild elephants in the area.

The NGT Bench also directed Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to shift the present waste dumping site in forest land at Pachim Boragaon near Deepor Beel within two months (by June 30) to the new site it has selected.

The directive of the NGT Bench were issued on April 29 last (copy of the same was made available on Thursday) in connection with a petition filed by environment activist Rohit Chowdhury who sought intervention of the NGT to secure safe movement of elephants in view of presence of the railway line through the forest land in Deepor Beel area as well as shifting of the waste dumping site of Guwahati Municipal Corporation from Pachim Boragaon forest land area in Guwahati.

The GMC submitted before the NGT that it has chosen a new site for dumping of waste in Chandrapur area near Guwahati as per the earlier directive of the Tribunal.

The Railway authorities has informed the NGT that it had taken steps with effect from March 15 last as per the earlier directive of the Tribunal to reduce the speed of train through forest land near Deepor Beel to 30 km per hour as a temporary measure and sensor as directed by the court will be put in place and in operation within a period of 15 days from April 29 last.

The Railway authorities further submitted that there were consultation between the Forest Department and the Railway Department at the ministry level and they would resolve the issue as to how the expenditure will have to be met for construction of tunnel to lay the railway line through this stretch in forest land to provide for long term solution for the under pass for free movement of elephants through the area and once the scheme is approved by both the ministries, necessary action plan will be prepared for implementation of the same.

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