NGT slaps ₹2 crore fine for damages to Sita river in Udupi

A view of National Green Tribunal. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a fine of over ₹2 crore on the Public Works Department; the Ports and Fisheries Department, Udupi; and the Minor Irrigation Department, Udupi, as “environment compensation for damages caused to the the riverine ecology of the Sita river” in Udupi district.

The case relates to a proposal to expand the existing jetty at Kodikanyam village, and dredging a 3.12 km stretch from the mouth of the Hangarkatte river to the Kodikanyam jetty through a contractor, Yojaka India Private Limited.

A joint committee appointed by the NGT found that the Ports and Fisheries authorities undertook dredging work without obtaining any clearances, including from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) authorities. The dredged materials were dumped on the western side corner of the river, beside the road, in violation of the CRZ Notification, 2011, and about 5.9 acres of river portion was reclaimed.

The Department of Minor Irrigation constructed bunds and roads on the reclaimed land to prevent the dredged materials from getting washed away by tidal effect. “This area of the river is found to be rich in natural mangroves and prawn breeding area (ecologically sensitive). Natural mangroves seem to have been destroyed during filling up of the river. Also, the authorities have caused damage to the river flow in violation of CRZ Notification 2011,” the committee had submitted.

The committee also submitted that the Minor Irrigation Department was responsible for changing the course of the river, damaging the mangroves and fish breeding grounds, and causing the area to flood more.

The committee noted that the Karnataka State Coastal Zone Management Authority had considered these clear violations and filed criminal cases against the violators.

“It is clear from the report that there were violations committed by the Public Works Department, Port and Fisheries Department, Udupi and Minor Irrigation Department, Udupi and they were responsible for the damage caused to the estuarine ecology and environment. They are jointly and seriously liable to pay this amount,” the Bench said, adding that the amount could be recovered from the contractor, if it was legally permissible.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 5:56:43 PM |

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