The National Green Tribunal has sought a factual report from a panel over allegations that the Tent City project in Varanasi was flouting environmental norms.
The NGT was hearing a petition alleging the project on a 100-acre area on the riverbed of the Ganga, was detrimental to the flora and fauna and also resulted in untreated sewage going directly into the river.
The Tent City, developed on the banks of the Ganga opposite the famed ghats of the holy city, aims to tap the tourism potential of the region and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January. A bench comprising chairperson Justice AK Goel said the allegations, if true, depicted serious violations of environmental norms.
But before passing any order, it was necessary to seek a factual report from a seven-member joint committee of the national mission for clean Ganga (NMCG), Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Chief Wild Life Warden and Irrigation and Water Resource Department of Uttar Pradesh, State pollution control board (PCB) and the district magistrate of Varanasi, the bench said.
"The committee may ascertain the legality of the project, impact of the project on the turtle wildlife sanctuary, river Ganga and integrity of the flood plain and mandate of Ganga order, 2016 (the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order, 2016) and any other incidental issues like liquid and solid waste management, power supply and its sources," it said.
The bench also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A Senthil Vel said NMCG and the state pollution control board will jointly be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance and it will be open to the committee to conduct proceedings online or offline to undertake visits to the site and interact with concerned authorities and stakeholders.
It further directed the committee to meet within a week and submit its report to the tribunal within two months. The matter has been posted for further proceedings on May 26.
The petition alleged that the project was against the order prohibiting construction in the riverbed of the Ganga.