The petitioner in the case against redevelopment of seven government residential colonies in south Delhi has said that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, prepared to get environmental clearance (EC) for construction of the World Trade Centre at Nauroji Nagar, suffers from “serious procedural lapses and complete non-application of mind”, and should be set aside.
The case was filed by environment activists after it was reported that the project would require chopping of at least 14,000 trees for vertical expansion. After the backlash, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said that the plans would be redrawn.
In an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, the Ministry said that the project should be allowed to go forward as the EIA report had already dealt with air, water, waste management and traffic scenario, and that it had got approval to carry out the project from several authorities after due consideration. It has also called the allegations by the petitioners “fear-mongering”.
The petitioner in the case, Kaushal Kant Mishra, pointed out that the EIA “has baseline data for water quality assessment, which has been plagiarised from another EIA report for Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd”. The EIA report, which The Indian Express has seen, refers to eight sampling locations for ground water level assessment. All these eight locations are in Chennai. The report also states that this assessment was done between October and December 2015. The terms of reference for the redevelopment project, however, were issued in 2017.
The petitioner has demanded that the EIA be set aside in accordance with a circular issued by the environment ministry in 2011. The EIA in the Nauroji Nagar project was ordered by NBCC, and was carried out by a Chennai-based firm. The 191-page report also states that there are no ecologically important flora or fauna species.
The circular states, “If at any stage, it is observed that… the contents of the EIA pertaining to a project have been copied from other EIA reports… the environment clearance granted would be withdrawn and the procedure for environment clearance will be initiated de novo”.