Railways gets deadline from NGT for Santragachhi status report

KOLKATA: The eastern zone bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday directed the Railways to comply with its earlier order to declare the area around Santragachhi Jheel a ‘Silence Zone’ and submit a status report by September 15.

NGT, while hearing an application by environment activist Subhas Datta, had passed the order on March 3. On Tuesday, the Railways submitted that it had been operating from Santragachhi for nearly 100 years and horns and whistles — so important for safe train running — don’t affect the birds.

“This is a strange opinion. Things have changed over 100 years. Today, it is as important to protect wildlife as to protect humans. Has the Railways carried out any study to establish that noise doesn’t affect birds? Recent studies state otherwise. Even a clap from a distance is sufficient to disturb birds. The Railways will explore all possibilities and comply with our order,” the bench of Justice S P Wangdi and Prof P C Mishra directed. The state environment department was also directed to discuss the issue with the Railways and declare the area a ‘Silence Zone’.