The National Green Tribunal has directed Jammu and Kashmir government and state pollution control board to test samples of ambient air quality in the entire construction stretch of Udhampur-Banihal highway after a plea alleged air pollution in the area.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the state environment department and Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board to submit joint status report and apprise it whether conditions stipulated in the environmental clearance granted to project proponents were being adhered to or not.
"In the meanwhile, we direct the Jammu and Kashmir State Pollution Control Board and the Department of Environment of the state government to submit a joint status report as to the analysis of the ambient air quality in the entire construction stretch when the work is going on. The samples should be collected at least on three different occasions and a composite analysis report should be submitted to the tribunal. The team will also offer its comments as to whether the environmental clearance granted to the project proponent is being adhered to strictly and whether it has also provided for all the measures to be taken for protection of air pollution and pollution of river Tawi and Chenab," the bench said.
The matter is now listed for next hearing on February 13. The tribunal had earlier sought replies from Environment Ministry, Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways, Jammu and Kashmir government, Hindustan Construction Company Ltd, Gammon India Ltd, and others on a plea against dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers.
On March 30, the NGT had heard a petition filed by Ramban resident Amaresh Singh against rampant dumping of soil in Chenab and Tawi rivers and restrained the authorities from throwing debris in the water bodies while constructing the stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar Highway between Udhampur and Banihal.
In a fresh application, Singh has alleged that after the order was passed by the tribunal, the dumping of muck and debris was stalled for a month.
However, such indiscriminate dumping in the two rivers has started again.The plea, filed through Swarn Kishore Singh, said the work on four-laning of the stretch of the highway was being executed in "a reckless manner" and loose soil was being dumped directly into the rivers.
The petitioner has alleged that "state of pollution" on the highway was such that sometimes even during the day, vehicles have to switch on their headlights to see through the dusty road.