The principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi giving judgment asked the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authority to stop laying of a second railway track in the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary area in Guwahati.
The principal bench of the NGT comprising Justice SP Wangdi, Judicial Member, Dr. Nagin Nanda, Expert Member, in its order on October 9, 2018 stated: “We are disturbed by the fact that the railway authorities (North-East Frontier Railway) is continuing with laying of the second railway track which we had prohibited to be undertaken based upon the submissions made on behalf of the railways that no work had been taken up in the area in question. A report of compliance was also called for from the railway authorities but the report has not been filed as on today.”
The plea was made before the NGT by Rohit Chowdhury seeking the tribunal’s intervention to stop laying of railway track in the Ramsar site.
Announcing its judgement through video conferencing, the NGT bench also stated that adjournment has been sought for on the ground of inability of the counsel for the North-East Frontier Railway.
Reiterating its order passed on January 18, 2018, directing stoppage of the work and calling for compliance report, the NGT bench stated: “By this order, we reiterate the direction that no further work shall be undertaken in the area in question, if they had already commenced with it which would include any other activity relating to laying of the second railway track.”
The NGT bench also made it clear that the railway authorities are bound to follow the steps recommended by the Committee in terms of tribunal’s order of January 18, 2018 which was issued in larger public interest keeping in view the Principle of Sustainable Development and Precautionary Principle.
“If the railway authorities fail to comply with the directions, appropriate coercive orders shall follow,” the NGT order further said.