The National Green Tribunal has ordered a ban on noise and solid waste pollution in the Sundarbans area in a bid to protect the wildlife during the coming tourist season. The Kolkata bench of NGT, comprising Justice (retd) S P Wangdi and Dr P C Mishra, taking up the matter suo motu, prohibited the use of mikes or loudspeakers blaring music, fancy decorative lights, release of solid waste and other material in river water.
The bench, in an order passed this week, directed the principal secretaries of four departments, Tourism, Environment, Home and Panchayat to ensure compliance of the order to maintain the ecology of the forests.
“Hundreds of motor launch, steamers and cruises take tourists to the Sundarbans during the winter for excursions and picnics leading to a lot of sound, air and solid waste pollution in the rivers and canals crisscrossing the largest mangrove forest in the world,” environmentalist Subhas Dutta, who has been appointed amicus curiae in the matter by the NGT bench, told reporters.
Home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, apart from a large number of other wildlife including alligators, dolphins, deer, wild boars, etc, the Sundarbans on the Ganga delta is already facing a threat to its ecological balance owing to deforestation and increasing human habitats and population.
Air and sound pollution are also on the rise in the Sundarban National Park and Tiger Reserve and its fringe areas owing to modern facilities being extended to these areas, which are not so remote now as compared to a decade ago, with better road communication and other modern facilities being available.
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“The NGT has also directed the Pollution Control Board (PCB) to visit all 174 hotels, resorts, lodges and homestays operating in the Sundarbans area and review their pollution control systems and whether these are conforming to rules and guidelines,” Dutta said.
The state PCB officials would check the year of establishment of these places, whether these have consent to establish and consent to operate by the PCB as also the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) permission, he said.