Despite the directions of the Meghalaya High Court, the State government is yet to approve the modified and corrected notification on the Meghalaya Water-bodies (Preservation and Conservation) Guidelines, 2023.
During today’s hearing of a PIL on the cleanliness of Umiam lake and preservation of water bodies in the State, the Additional Advocate General K Khan told the division bench of the High Court that though the notification has since been modified and corrected, the same is yet to be finally approved.
Khan requested the court to allow the State government a further two weeks’ time to complete the exercise. While granting his request, the High Court asked the State government to complete the same and inform the court at the hearing on February 14. The court also said that the next hearing no further time should be sought for.
It may be mentioned that the High Court in its order passed on October 19, 2023 has directed the State government for correction, modification and republication of the notification dated August 25, 2023.
The High Court had said that the guidelines contained obvious mistakes which need to be corrected.
Earlier, the State government referred to the definition of “regulated zone” in paragraph 2(1)(c) of the Meghalaya Water-bodies (Preservation and Conservation) Guidelines, 2023. The definition of “regulated zone” indicates that construction of buildings and other structures in the regulated zone would be as per paragraph 5 of the guidelines. However, paragraph 5 of the guidelines has nothing to do with the regulated zone. There is reference to the regulated zone only in paragraph 7 of the guidelines.
“It is evident that the guidelines have been hurriedly prepared and the mistake may also indicate that there may not have been full application of mind,” the court had said in an earlier hearing. It also said that the concerns indicated by one of the petitioners must be addressed both to ensure that the aesthetics around a water body and the natural beauty are not compromised in the name of development or only for the purpose of allowing private construction to come up.