For want of environment clearance, the National Green Tribunal on Monday banned the covering of the 10-km-long Kushak drain in South Delhi till October 28.

“We direct all the parties to maintain status quo, which means no further construction can be undertaken,” a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar noted.

The Bench refused to entertain requests by the counsel for the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which is undertaking the project, that the work not be halted but granted it a week’s time to show if the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority’s (SEIAA) clearance is required for the project.

The Tribunal’s order came while hearing the petition of retired Indian Forest Service officer Manoj Kumar Mishra and Madhu Bhaduri, a former diplomat, who have opposed covering the storm water drains in Delhi to use them for commercial and parking purposes.

Appearing for Mr. Mishra, advocate Ritwick Dutta said that as per the Delhi Government’s notice regarding construction over the Shahdara drain in East Delhi, SEIAA clearance is required but the work of covering the Kushak drain has commenced without any such go-ahead.

These drains dump the waste water collected from various colonies of Delhi into the Yamuna and covering them could cause excessive flooding during monsoons, said Mr. Dutta.