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NGT stays capital dredging activity by MPT.

Panaji:The National Green Tribunal, western zone bench-Pune, has stayed capital dredging activity by the Mormugoa Port Trust directing it and the Union ministry of environment and forests to pay Rs 2 lakh each to both the appellants within four weeks.The appellant societies – Old Cross Fishing Canoe Owners Society Ltd and Baina Ramponkar and Fishing Canoe Owners Society – challenged the environmental clearance of February 9, 2016, granted for the capital dredging activity to the MPT.
The appellants submitted that the MPT has proposed to deepen the existing navigation approach channel in Vasco bay to allow larger capsize vessels into the port area and for that purpose they have proposed to deepen depth of water to 19.5-9.8 metre from the existing depth of 14.1-14.4 metre over the entire length of the approach channel.
They contended that such massive dredging would result in adversarial changes in the water quality by sediment dispersal and collapsing of the seabed.
They also submitted that the removal of gravels and stones during dredging would cause irreversible impacts on the aquatic life and the seabed. The appellants, therefore, submitted that such massive dredging activity will result in degradation of the ecosystem, disturbing ecology and thereby affecting the environment and livelihood of local fishermen community.The NGT has ordered that the communication dated September 23, 2015 of the MoEF granting exemption from public consultation to the project of the MPT is quashed as illegal, arbitrary and in violation to the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006. Consequently, the impugned EC dated February 9, 2016 is also quashed and set aside.The matter has been remanded back to EAC of the MoEF for further action.
The interim order dated May 4, 2016 stands vacated.However, in view of the further proceedings regarding the restoration and restitution, the bank guarantee deposited by the MPT with the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority will be retained by the authority till further orders.
The appellants alleged that the dredging activities are environmentally sensitive work and even the GCZMA while forwarding the application of the MPT to the MoEF had highlighted various issues to be considered and decided by the MoEF.The MoEF has not appraised the project proposal strictly as per the EIA notification. It failed to reasonably and scientifically deal with apprehensions of the local people as well as issues raised by the GCZMA, the appellants said.The matter will be further heard regarding the restoration and restitution of the environment.[NT]

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