Illegal construction in Okhla sanctuary: NGT raps UP govt for not notifying eco-sensitive zone

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to designate eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, in spite of being given time to do so.

A bench headed by Justice P Jyothimani directed UP government to send a proposal on ESZ around the sanctuary to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), by January 3, 2014, the next date of hearing.

The court said it "may have to pass orders in accordance with the law" if the government fails to heed its order. In case the government sends the proposal, "then the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) and MoEF shall act on the proposal and take appropriate decision for the purpose of notifying the eco-sensitive zone".

Amit Kumar, in his petition, has sought prevention of the alleged illegal and unauthorised construction within the sanctuary's 10-km radius, which he claims to be an eco-sensitive zone. The builders have contended that since the sanctuary neither has a notified eco-sensitive zone nor a protected area, no clearance will be required from NBWL for any project coming up within 10 km.

Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for petitioner Amit Kumar, alleged that the UP government has not sent its proposal as it is protecting the builders.

The order was passed after stakeholders in the case, including MoEF, NBWL and builders, contended that the UP government had not done anything till the NGT ordered it to send MoEF its proposal on ESZ. NGT issued fresh notices to Haryana and Delhi governments and sought replies.

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