Hotels, industries, ashrams polluting the Ganga to be sealed
The Uttarakhand high court has asked the state government and the district magistrates of all 13 districts to “identify” and “seal” the industries, hotels, ashrams etc, that are releasing untreated sewage into the Ganga and its tributaries within three weeks. National parks including tiger reserves, elephant reserves, Jim Corbett and Rajaji National Park will also be declared plastic free zones according to the court order. Visitors will be allowed to carry only two water bottles while empty bottles will have to be handed over to the staff at exit points while no plastic bags will be allowed in the park premises.
Environment ministry clears 800 MW hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has cleared the construction of the 800 MW Bursar hydroelectric project inside the Kishtwar High Altitude National Park (KHANP) in Jammu and Kashmir by bypassing environmental concerns and site visits. The project is a storage scheme permitted under the Indus Water Treaty and will be constructed on the Marusudar River, a tributary of the Chenab, in Kishtwar. Bursar has a storage capacity of 0.5 MAF (million acre feet) and has been declared a national project under the Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan for J&K.
Realty projects must undergo environmental clearance: NGT
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stayed the Union Environment Ministry's notification of December 9, which exempted real estate projects (up to 1,50,000 sq m built-up area) in the country from undergoing EIA and obtaining environmental clearance (EC). The notification has been challenged by the NGT on various grounds, including the reason for exemption, which is based on "ease of doing responsible business", which the NGT argues cannot be a ground for exemption from the application of the environmental law.
Minor irrigation works to get a fresh lease under MGNREGS
Minor irrigation works will now get fresh funding under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as a result of changes made in the norms to take up such projects. Under the new norms, local bodies will be able to take up minor irrigation works such as silting, repair of earthen embankments, bank raising, resurfacing of canal base with clay, lining of canals, field drains and farm net. Creation and maintenance of irrigation canals, including micro and minor irrigation works, will also be permitted under the MGNREGS as priority areas if these projects are linked to agriculture development.
Revision of SC ruling on bottled water MRP on the cards
The central government plans to move a review petition against the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that allowed hotels and restaurants to sell packaged drinking water over and above the maximum retail price (MRP). This is because hotels, restaurants, multiplexes etc do not come under non-commercial institutions and for them to sell bottled mineral water to consumers above the MRP will attract penalties under the Legal Metrology Act.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from December 20 - 26, 2017. Also, read the news this week.