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Friday, June 25, 2021

NGT questions state environment authority over ‘continuous norms violation in construction projects’

The NGT questioned the SEIAA for the "continuous violation of environment norms in construction projects".

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 28, 2021 9:08:46 pm
National Green Tribunal newsThe National Green Tribunal (File photo)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern over the functioning of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to review its functioning.

The NGT questioned the SEIAA for the “continuous violation of environment norms in construction projects”.

It also directed the ministry to provide standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be adopted for dealing with clearances without hurting the environment.

The development comes as the principal bench was hearing a case of Environment Clearance (EC) violation against a Pune builder. The NGT observed that multiple construction projects in Maharashtra have been executed without prior EC, which is granted by the SEIAA. Though ECs were granted initially, multiple projects have expanded the scope of construction work (at variance with the original terms of clearance) and subsequently applied for ex-post-facto EC.

In at least two cases, the SEIAA proceeded to grant fresh EC without levying any monetary compensation for environmental damage caused by the project proponent, the NGT order of May 24 said. The order does not specify the total number of such violations.

The NGT observed, “We are coming across the grievance of continuous violation of environment norms in construction projects being completed without prior EC and the SEIAA, Maharashtra is neither requiring demolition nor payment of assessed compensation.

“It will be appropriate to require the SEIAA, Maharashtra to review its working in the light of… violations frequently being alleged, including the present case.”

There have been several cases resting in the Pune Bench of NGT, which are now being heard by the principal bench virtually headed by the chairperson, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, about construction projects having either no ECs or post-facto clearance, with no environmental compensation or penalties imposed.

The NGT also directed the “constitution of a Joint Committee comprising MoEFCC, CPCB, SEIAA, Maharashtra and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to review their functioning and also to suggest remedial action, including the quantum of compensation in the individual case”.

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