The National Green Tribunal, Eastern Zone, in Kolkata has directed respondents to submit a status report on the Mahananda river that flows through Siliguri. The Tribunal was yesterday responding to a complaint filed by the secretary of the Siliguri-based Mahananda Bachao Committee, Jyotsna Agarwal.
It has asked the State Pollution Control Board and other authorities concerned like the Irrigation and Land & Land Reforms departments, Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority to submit affidavits.
Notably, having failed to stop encroachment and construction on the river beds of the Mahananda, despite reminders to the district administration, Ms Agarwal had finally knocked the doors of the Tribunal in Kolkata after the Chairman of the Board of Administrators at the SMC, Gautam Deb, and his associates visited a ‘char land’ at the river near Surya Sen Park.
The Tribunal has also specifically asked the authorities concerned about the execution of the action plan drafted for the river, eviction of illegal encroachments, human settlement on either banks of the river, implementation of appropriate mechanism for the treatment of sewerage and floodplain zones of the river, in response to original applications filed in 2017 and 2018.
“Mr Deb, being the chairman of the BoA for the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, has recently planned to construct a parking zone on the river bed, which is at present a char land and rehabilitate hawkers from Siliguri town,” a source said.
Ms Agarwal objected to any construction on the land where children play, while a group has been organising Pous Mela there every winter. Ms Agarwal argues that encroachment on the river bed could invite a disastrous situation during floods and the river may change its course, eroding land on the right banks, affecting four human settlements like Gurung Basti, Vidyachakra Colony, Laxmi Colony and Mahakal Pally areas.
The Tribunal has also directed the concerned to submit a report for imposition of penalties, including initiation of criminal proceedings against polluters. A hearing has been fixed on the case on 20 September.