The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday imposed a fine on the management of Akshardham Temple for expanding the temple complex without prior environmental clearance. The Tribunal asked a committee, formed for revitalisation of the Yamuna, to ascertain whether the expanded portion fell within the limits of the river’s floodplain.
The Tribunal directed the temple management to pay a fine equal to five per cent of the total cost incurred during the expansion of the temple complex, which is located along the river. It also directed the committee to submit its report within three months.
The NGT referred the matter — “particularly the issue of whether the temple’s expanded part falls in the Yamuna’s floodplain area and whether its conditions are complied with or not” — to the committee.
The Tribunal passed the order in response to a petition filed by Manoj Mishra from the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
The petitioner alleged that the temple management had used one of two memorandums of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)— that the NGT had subsequently quashed — to obtain “post-facto’ clearance for the expansions.
The Tribunal had formed the first principal committee on January 13 to carry out its directions regarding the project to revitalise the river. A second panel was formed after the NGT quashed the two MoEF memorandums, that cleared projects which had been already constructed or those where construction had begun.
Mishra alleged that though environmental clearance for the expansion was granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in July 2013, the construction work had begun in 2011.