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Green tribunal stays blasting on Mithi riverbed (Nov.)

The Times of India, Mumbai,  1st November, 2013
Correspondent : Clara Lewis,
MUMBAI: The Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal has ordered a stay on blasting on the Mithi riverbed till an environment impact assessment (EIA) report is prepared.
The report, the bench said, is necessary in order to locate whether blasting on the riverbed is likely to cause adverse impact on Mithi and its ecology. "We are of the opinion that activities of blasting should be appropriately evaluated by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). Thereafter, the EIA report and the opinion of MCZMA will be considered cumulatively in order to consider request for permission to conduct blasting on the Mithi riverbed, which is sought to be cleaned and widened," said the order.
The petition was filed by Jal Biradari, which has been fighting to save Mithi river. Janak Daftary of Jal Biradari said that the development of the Mithi river is "contractor-driven" and is harming the river and its marine life. It has challenged the Mithi River Development Authority for carrying out blasting on the riverbed without permission from the ministry of environment and forests. The government maintained that the blasting is part of the widening and deepening work on the river.
The tribunal said that it was concerned about the fallout of such activities and wanted to ensure that such activities do not impair ecology and environment. It did not agree with the petitioner that blasting is akin to mining on the riverbed. The tribunal also directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to stop all construction and industrial activity within 30m of riverbanks. More than 200 industrial units, many of which are recycling centres, are also to be shut down.