Defying structures of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on a petition filed against the reckless and indiscriminate concretization of the city's open, soft and green areas, the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation is fast concretizing the soft areas in both residential and commercial hubs, environmentalists point out.

The NGT had on September 25 asked the environment and forests ministry to make its position clear on whether concretization works come under the purview of Area Development Projects under Category 8(B) of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification and require prior environment clearance. The tribunal passed the order after the petitioner submitted that concretization, being done on the pretext of area development, was critically endangering the urban environment.

With unabated concretization carried out in the city for the last four years, the municipal corporation has almost virtually concretized the whole of Raj Nagar, once an extensively vegetated and green area. Vegetation outside the residential plots was uprooted to lay down cemented and interlocking tiles, an issue that has also been raised in the petition.

"The corrupt agencies and its councilors have no respect for the court of law. They are simply blind with amassing more and more from commissions from the favoured contractors. Not a single centimeter has been left soiled and soft in Raj Nagar, for instance," said petitioner Akash Vashishtha, an environment conservationist.

"I have been constantly calling up the Municipal Commissioner and principal secretary and have even told the chief minister's office, but even they are not responding. It seems they all are united in this deliberate damage to the environment," Vashishtha added.

The concretization along soft roadsides is continuing despite the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary barring this permit the recharge of ground water.

The urban development ministry had September 23 issued advisories to all states and union territories prohibiting concretization of soft roadsides and permitting pavements only on the stretches with heavy pedestrian traffic.

The civic body has its own story to tell. "Tenders that had been awarded in the past are being executed. No new tenders are being considered for concretization. Areas that had been dug up are being filled with river sand and tiles are then being laid. It is being done in view of increasing traffic on the roads. The narrow roads built earlier are unable to bear such a heavy load of traffic" Praveen Chaudhary, the councilor of ward 53, said.

Municipal Commissioner RK Singh spoke in the same vein, adding, "We are looking into it. The officers have been asked not to violate NGT instructions."

(Agencies)

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