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Setback for Bandora villagers as NGT dismisses appeal against STP

PONDA: In a blow to the hopes of Undir locals opposing sewage treatment plant (STP), National Green Tribunal (NGT) at Delhi has dismissed their appeal against the approval issued by Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) for a 15-million litres daily (MLD) STP at Undir, Bandora recently.

“All the concerns of the appellant has been considered and addressed by the GCZMA while issuing NOC/permission for the proposed STP project and accordingly appeal has been dismissed,” states the NGT order.

It may be recalled that Undir-Bandora villagers have been opposing the STP for last two years. Villagers under the banner of Undir Paryavaran Saurakshan Manch (UPSM) had also launched several agitations against the government and the local panchayat for granting permission to the project.

Villagers had filed appeal with NGT at Delhi challenging the NOC/permission granted by GCZMA on January 25, 2018 for the construction of 15 MLD STP at Undir in Bandora village on the grounds that the permission was granted without application of mind about its environmental impact and in violation of environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, 2006 and that the project violated CRZ notification, 2011 as 10,000 sqm of the project area falls within the backwaters and mangroves of Zuari river. Further, they had submitted that as per CRZ notification, mangroves are included under CRZ-I areas and there is a prohibition on setting up or expanding waste disposal mechanisms within CRZ-I areas.

Defending the claims made by the villagers of Undir, state advocate had made it clear that the site is in a paddy field about 1.5 km from the river bank and 109 mangrove trees would have to be felled.

The forest department has issued approval on condition that thrice the number of felled trees would have to be planted. Further, not setting up a plant would result in untreated sewage going into the river.

Based on it, the NGT in the order stated, “that in facts and circumstances stated above, we are of the considered opinion that as the proposed site is the paddy field though bearing some trees of mangrove species situated at a distance of 1.5 km from the bank of the river, it does not fall within NDZ and not covered by CRZ-I regulations. We, therefore, hold that all the concerns of the appellant have been considered and addressed by the GCZMA while giving NOC /approval, hence petition is

dismissed.”

Reacting to NGT order, Undir local leader Gurudas Naik stated that they will challenge the order by filing a writ petition in stipulated time.

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