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NGT asks MoEF for report on whether clearance needed for inland waterway projects in Ganga

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit a report on the issue whether Environment Impact Assessment is necessary for inland waterway projects in Ganga river in the stretch from Varanasi to Haldia also known as the National Waterway 1. The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented on the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs 5,369.18 crores (USD 800 million) on a 50:50 sharing basis between Government of India and the World Bank, according to the Ministry of Shipping.

Out of the USD 800 million, USD 375 is IBRD (The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) loan.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson justice A K Goel noted that the report of the expert committee constituted by the MoEF has not been filed even though almost one year has lapsed.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Bharat Jhunjhunwala and others on whether EIA is necessary for navigation infrastructure in the River Ganga in the stretch from Varanasi to Haldia also known as the National Waterway 1 (NW1) undertaken by Inland Waterways Authority of India.

The project envisages developmental activities such as river terminal, jetties and locks and barrages and multimodal river water terminals along with necessary dredging.

The applicant referred to Entry 7(e) of Schedule to the EIA Notification to state that “ports, harbours, back waters and dredging” require clearance.

However, the entry further mentions that maintenance dredging is exempted, in the manner mentioned therein.

The applicant had referred to an affidavit of the MoEF stating that as per an expert committee the proposal for the implementation of ‘Jal Marg Vikas Project’ for augmentation of navigational aids in the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of National Waterway-1 is covered under the EIA Notification, 2006.

Later, a meeting was held between the MoEF, Ministry of Road Transport and Water Resources in which it was held that no EC was necessary as certain environmental safety measures had been specified .

The NGT in order to bring clarity on the issue had directed the MoEF to take clear instructions whether Environment Impact Assessment is necessary for inland waterway projects in Ganga river in the stretch from Varanasi to Haldia also known as the National Waterway 1.



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