Exactly a year after pulling up the Maharashtra government and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) over their failure to prepare a zonal master plan (ZMP) for the eco-sensitive zone of Matheran, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday slapped a fine of Rs 27 lakh on the state and MoEF for the delay in submission of the ZMP, despite the deadline set by the tribunal.
Last year, the NGT bench of Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and Satyawan Singh Garbyal had noted that not only was the ZMP “deficient”, as per a plea submitted to the Tribunal, but it was also delayed by 15 years. The tribunal observed that the plan had not been finalised by the MoEF, since its final approving letter imposed more suggestions to be incorporated in the draft ZMP drawn up by the state.
A notification for preparing the ZMP was issued by the MoEF on February 4, 2003. As per the law, after issuance of notification, the final Zonal Master Plan has to be finalised within two years.
“Neither the MoEF nor the state government appears to be much concerned about the relevant law. Even today, the same position exists as the state government has hurried up to file a draft plan which is said to be incomplete,” the NGT had stated.
The Tribunal had stated that unless the ZMP was submitted, it would levy a certain amount of fine per day.In accordance with its order on August 23
last year, the NGT imposed a fine of Rs 27 lakh for the delay in the submission.
The Bombay Environment Action Group had filed a plea on the issue with the NGT. In its order in response to the application, the NGT had said, “It is a classic case, relating to an area, namely Matheran hill station, where initiation with regard to Zonal Master Plan for the eco-sensitive zone was undertaken prior to 2003. Despite the limitation prescribed under law, Zonal Master Plan of the said area, which was to come within two years, has not been completed, despite the passage of more than 15 years.”
“The non-seriousness about the issue by the ministry as well as the state government is clearly reflected, with no iota of doubt. In the meantime, the area has been exploited by private parties by raising constructions and using it for their vested interests…,” the NGT had said.