Among the several last-minute decisions taken by the previous Congress-NCP government in the state is a circular allowing the water resource department to issue no-objection certificate (NOC) to carry out development work near water bodies. It has come under close scrutiny.
Hearing an application, the West Zone bench of National Green Tribunal represented by Justice V R Kingaonkar and expert member Ajay Deshpande, directed the water resource department to file an affidavit assuring there would be no development work within the defined ‘blue line’ around water bodies.
“The tribunal stayed implementation of the government circular of August 8 allowing water resource department to issue an NOC. It sought an affidavit from the government department assuring it will not allow any development activities within the blue line or green belt of rivers that may affect natural flow of water,” said Asim Sarode, representing applicant Sarang Yadwadkar and Narendra Chug in the tribunal.
The applicant said the circular of August 8 is atrocious, illegal, creates scope for damaging environment and gives authority to officials in contravention of environment protection norms.
If the government circular is implemented, it will cause irreversible damage to all rivers in the state and seriously endanger “civilizations along the river banks”, they said.
“In the garb of public purpose, personal interests of some political leaders are being protected,” they said adding that when many works are permitted in the river bed in the larger public good, a few that were slipped in surreptitiously cannot be said to be in “public good” but aimed at benefiting select persons.
The circular states that as per the City Development Plans, constructing roads on riverbeds, gardens and jogging tracks and flood protection walls on river banks, sewer pipes in river beds etc. are unavoidable, and has to be done within the blue line. For these, the concerned agency has to seek an NOC from the water resources department.
The Regional Chief Engineer is empowered to issue NOCs stipulating the conditions for such works within the framework of existing laws.
The circular clarified that the NOC should not be treated as permission for construction work and the agency should take necessary permissions from departments concerned.