New Delhi, May 27 (IANS): In a major intervention, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has halted all concretization of roadsides and road berms in Noida and Greater Noida cities.
The Green Court also issued notices to Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Noida and Greater Noida Authorities, District Magistrate, District Ground Water Management Council, and the Resident Welfare Associations, directing them to reply within two months.
"In the meanwhile, respondents are directed not to carry out any further act of concretization of the roadsides and road berms in Noida and Greater Noida in excess of the limits prescribed," read an order dated May 24.
A bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and Expert Member, Dr. Afroz Ahmad, passed the Order, on the petition of environment activist Vikrant Tongad and Consultant Dermatologist, Dr. Supriya Mahajan, stating that the Noida and Greater Noida Authorities were concretizing the entire roadsides and green road berms in the two cities, in flagrant violation of the Orders of the Tribunal, the Government Orders issued by the state government and the Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Urban Development.
Concretization of ground obstructs groundwater recharge, causes urban heat islands, loss of biodiversity, waterlogging, loss of carbon sequestration, and prevention of mitigation efforts towards curbing air pollution, the plea said.
Akash Vashishtha, Advocate and Counsel for the petitioners, told the court that every inch of soft, vegetated roadsides and road berms in the two cities were being concretized in open defiance of the repeated Orders of the Tribunal.
"It has been the consistent and settled position that roadsides and road berms cannot be concretized," he submitted.
"Such sudden, alarming increase in the ambient temperatures in the last few years is not because of seasonal and meteorological factors alone but because of these entirely concretized ground surfaces. In the absence of harvesting systems, these roadsides serve as the only medium of natural groundwater recharge and those, too, are usurped for concretisation," Vashishtha argued during the course of extensive arguments.
"They can easily vegetate these surfaces with grass or other pollution-absorbing plants. Grass releases Oxygen. The budgets are also comparably much lesser than these ecologically disastrous, unsustainable indiscriminate concretization works. There is adequate scientific material, including a US Department of Energy study that recommends shunning of this practice," he said.