Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding Zonal Master Plan 2030 for the Mount Abu Eco-sensitive Zone, 10/03/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Dr. Arun Kumar Sharma Vs Ministry of Environment Forests & Climate Change & Others dated 10/03/2021.

The application challenges the Zonal Master Plan, 2030 (ZMP 2030) for the Mount Abu Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ).

The impugned ZMP 2030 was notified on October 29, 2015 after approval by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) September 28, 2015. The petitions challenged the same as being inconsistent with the ESZ notification June 25, 2009.

Grounds of challenge among other things was that it failed to discourage construction activities at or near the heritage sites, conserve the existing water bodies, permitted change of land use by illegal structures. Construction has been allowed on green tracks to benefit builders - though MoEF&CC while approving the ZMP, placed restriction on change of land use from green uses, the ZMP allowed paying guest accommodation in residential land which would be commercialization by back door and is indirect land use change.

The NGT accepted the report of the Joint Committee constituted for the purpose and directed that the ZMP 2030 has to be duly modified - the revision of the ZMP has to be undertaken by the concerned authorities in consultation with the nine member committee constituted by the Tribunal vide order November 7, 2019. ZMP has to be finalized within three months.

Further where land holding was less than 2500 meters, "the built-up area should be allowed on pro-rata basis". All land parcels where Expert Committee has permitted construction be properly demarcated on map as well as on ground by pucca pillars, after duly leaving the distance for buffers as per ESZ notification. All blank patches of lands within the ESZ has to be greened up by the municipal corporation. Buffers around drains, wetlands and forest should be duly maintained and protected. The authorities must ensure proper functioning of STP and its connectivity to the sewer lines, utilization of treated sewage, management of solid waste and overall environmental quality.