Several of Vadodora’s concerned citizens* have shot a letter to the Union minister for environment, forests and climate change, as also to senior Government of India and Gujarat officials, asking them to directly intervene with the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to immediately stop all illegal debris dumping, construction, and any other such damaging activities in and around Vishwamitri river, especially at the Kala Ghoda Bridge, within Vadodara city. They have said, VMC’s activities are in violation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Interim Order dated May 25, 2017, as also the direction by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority dated August 9, 2016, the Gujarat High Court hudgement dated August 2, 2002. Text of the letter:
This is with respect to the ongoing, illegal, and damaging activities in and around the Vishwamitri River that is being done in violation of the Interim Order dated 25.05.2017 passed by the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal (Western Bench) in Application 49 of 2016 (Rohit Prajapati and Anr V/s Secretary MoEFCC & Ors); direction by the No. SEIAA/GuJ/General/512/2016 dated 09.08.2016 passed by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Gujarat passed in the Withdrawal Application for VRDP Project No. SIA/GJ/NCP/4584/2015 dated 05/08/2016 of Vadodara Municipal Corporation; Gujarat High Court Judgement dated 2 August, 2002 in SCA No. 10621 of 2000 (Shailesh Shah V/s State of Gujarat); The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972; and other Environmental laws. In this regard, the following communication has already taken place with the concerned authorities:
- WhattsApp Communication with the Municipal Commissioner of Vadodara Municipal Corporation dated 22.12.2017.
- Letter dated 25.12.2017 to all concerned authorities.
- Letter dated 03.01.2018 to the Municipal Commissioner, Vadodara Municipal Corporation.
It is amply evident that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation has knowingly and deliberately violated the Interim Order dated 25.05.2016 passed by the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal (Western Bench) in Application 49 of 2016 (Rohit Prajapati and Anr V/s Secretary MoEFCC & Ors); direction by the No. SEIAA/GuJ/General/512/2016 dated 09.08.2016 passed by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Gujarat passed in the Withdrawal Application for VRDP Project No. SIA/GJ/NCP/4584/2015 dated 05/08/2016 of Vadodara Municipal Corporation; Gujarat High Court Judgement dated 2 August, 2002 in SCA No. 10621 of 2000 (Shailesh Shah V/s State of Gujarat); The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972; and other Environmental laws.
Already major irreversible damage has been done to the Vishwamitri River and is still continuing despite repeated requests and meetings with them. We are attaching relevant photographs taken on 04.01.2018 in this letter. The current work, on the pretext of the bridge, is destroying the habitats of the crocodile currently during its breeding season, other Schedule I species, and the river ecosystem as a whole. Damage is also being done to the heritage structures (Ghats) as well, at the Kala Ghoda Bridge, very much in the channel of and along the Vishwamitri River.
All the concerned authorities have kept silent on this issue and also to our letter dated 25.12.2017.
We request all the concerned authorities to immediately direct the Vadodara Municipal Corporation to stop all illegal activity at the Kala Ghoda Bridge and also all other activities in and along the Vishwamitri River and the riverine environment as a whole.
We urge the concerned authorities to prosecute any / all concerned departments / authorities / parties that are engaged in the above stated illegal activities.
Not doing so is in violation of the Environment laws, applicable interim orders, legal directions, and judgments. All concerned authorities, departments, and parties may have to face legal action.
We look forward to your positive response and immediate action to protect, restore, and nurture the environment.
*Signatories: Rohit Prajapati, environment activist, researcher and writer; Prof Shishir R Raval, landscape architect and ecological planner; Neha Sarwate, environmental and urban planner; Dr Ranjitsinh Devkar, zoologist; Dr Deepa Gavali, wetland ecologist; Dr Jitendra Gavali, botanist; Shakti Bhatt, water resources expert; Dr Arjun Singh Mehta, biotechnologist; Dr Jayendra Lakhmapurkar, hydro-geologist; Hitarth Pandya, educationist and writer; Rutvik Tank, civil engineer and urban planner; and Dhara Patel Mittal, landscape architect and architect
All photographs, dated January 4. 2018, are of ongoing pre-construction activity (like clearing of vegetation and making an access path for the in the Vishwamitri River at Kala Ghoda Bridge) near, along, and very much inside the Vishwamitri river damaging habitats of Schedule I species, especially the crocodile during its breeding season