The National Green Tribunal has stood by its decision taken last year imposing a fine on Akshardham temple management for carrying out expansion without prior environmental clearance and quashing two office memoranda of the Environment Ministry.
The green panel said there was “no ground” to review the judgement as sought by the temple management against the penalty imposed on it for allegedly expanding temple premises here without an environmental clearance (EC).
“There is no ground to review our judgment dated July 10, 2015. However, we clarify that the Principal Committee constituted under our judgment, should deal with the case stated to be or allegedly falling within the flood plain… of the River Yamuna expeditiously and submit the report,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
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The Tribunal, however, allowed the petitioner to approach the Principal Committee headed by Shashi Shekhar (Secretary in Ministry of Water Resources) for redressal of its grievances and directed the panel to expedite hearing in the matter.
The green panel had on July 7 quashed two office memoranda of the Environment Ministry dealing with the issue of clearances for major and minor projects, saying they suffered from infirmity of “lack of inherent jurisdiction and authority”.
Later on July 10, it had also slapped a fine of five per cent of the total cost incurred in the expansion of temple complex, located on Yamuna river bank along National Highway 24.
The Akshardham Temple management had approached the Tribunal against the order and said when the construction of the temple was completed in 2005, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 was not in force and thus there was no requirement for EC.
The bench had passed the order on a petition filed by environment activist Manoj Mishra alleging that the temple management had allegedly used one of these two memoranda to get a “post facto” clearance for expanding the complex on a proposed built-up area of 25,497 square metres.
The petitioner, in his plea through advocate Rahul Choudhary, had said while the construction on the temple complex reportedly started in 2011, the environment clearance was granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority only in July 2013.