A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, ONGC and AGCL to make their stand clear before it tomorrow on the plea of an association of tea manufacturers who have sought directions to authorities to supply them natural gas.

The Indian Tea Association in their plea has contended that several tea industries around Kaziranga National Park were ordered by the NGT to be shut down as they were using boilers fueled by wood, coal or oil in the manufacturing process.

The association has sought supply of natural gas to the tea industries so that they can function as per directions of the NGT which on September 7, last year, had directed Assam Pollution Control Board and other authorities "to ensure no tea processing units having boilers using fossil fuel operates within the 'no development zone' and take immediate steps to stop their operation".
    
The NGT's direction had come on the plea of one Rohit Choudhury, who had opposed the operations of stone crushers, brick kilns and tea factories in the no development zone around the national park. The tribunal had also ordered closure and removal of the stone crusher units as well as the brick kilns.

During the hearing, the ministry and ONGC contended that supply of natural gas to the tea industries is not possible; a claim which was opposed by the association which said that AGCL in its affidavit has said that it can supply gas to the tea manufacturers.

In view of these contentions, the bench directed the ministry, ONGC and AGCL to sit together and decide whether they can supply gas to the industries and also apprise the tribunal about the same.

(Agencies)

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