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The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal directed the Bengal Government this week to immediately stop constructing the helipad at Gazoldoba ‘Bhorer Alo’ Tourism hub, mere 25 km from Siliguri, a hot destination for east-bound tourists.

Pursuant to a petition by Subhas Datta, an environmentalist, the bench comprising Justice SP Wangdi and expert member SS Garbyal directed ‘Respondent no. 3- the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Government of West Bengal, Respondent no. 4- the Department of Urban Development, Government of West Bengal and Respondent no. 5- the Department of Tourism respectively to show cause as to why action should not be initiated against them under Section 26 read with Section 28 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and such other statutes within a period of one month from hence.’

The order further stated, ‘In the event the constructions are continuing, such work shall be withheld forthwith until further order.’ Compliance report on the same by the three entities have also been called for.

A prior NGT order dated 18.08.2016 had restrained construction work in the Gazoldoba Tourism Project, close to Teesta Barrage near Siliguri for want of environmental clearances. Datta alleged violation of the same, while adding that a helipad too was under construction.

Datta informed the Tribunal that the project itself is within the prohibited area of the Pakhibitan Wild Life Sanctuary.

State tourism minister Goutam Deb said on Friday he was aware of the directive but insisted, “We have environmental clearances for the project and will submit it to tribunal once it reopens.”

NGT will further monitor the matter for further directions on 20th November 2019.

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