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Capital dredging in inland waterway: Govt of India 'violating' environmental laws

Minister flagging off cargo Indo-Bangla waterways movement 
By Our Representative
The Manthan Adhyayan Kendra (MAK), a non-profit study centre based in Pune, has alleged that the Inland Waterways Authority of India has been carrying out capital dredging to maintain an assured draft in the navigation channel for National Inland Waterways in violation of the country’s environmental law.
In a note in its newsletter, MAK said, “Capital dredging and maintenance dredging are covered in the list of activities which require environmental clearance under item 7 (e) to the schedule of Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, as amended from time to time.”
It added, “The Ministry of Shipping has been evading the environmental clearance by declaring most dredging operations as maintenance dredging, which is exempted from environmental clearance by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change after a high-level meeting (held in October 2017) of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Shipping, and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.”
According to MAK, “This exemption is a contravention of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, and is subject to the final outcome of the case in the National Green Tribunal (O.A 404 of 2019; Earlier O.A. 487 of 2015) on the applicability of EIA Notification 2006 for the National Inland Waterways Project.”
The allegation follows a statement by Pravir Pandey, Chairman, IWAI, that “capital dredging” for the waterways for to carry cargo from Bhutan to Narayanganj in Bangladesh “has been carried out to maintain an assured draft in the navigation channel”, underlining, “Maintenance dredging will be carried out as required.”
The cargo movement was digitally flagged off on July 12, 2019 by Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (independent charge). It carried stone aggregates from Bhutan to be delivered to Bangladesh via Dhubri in Assam (National Waterway -2) over river Brahmaputra. The step has been described as the ‘first ever movement of its kind’ for connecting Bhutan and Bangladesh through the National Inland Waterways.

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