April 3, 2020 1:44:54 am
The need for environment clearance for a project must be seen as a measure to achieve sustainable development, the Supreme Court has said. The court ruled that the “concept of an ex-post facto EC (environmental clearance) is in derogation of the fundamental principles of environmental jurisprudence”, “detrimental to the environment, and could lead to irreparable degradation”.
The reason why a retrospective EC or an ex post facto clearance is alien to environmental jurisprudence is that before the issuance of an EC, the statutory notification warrants a careful application of mind, besides a study into the likely consequences of a proposed activity on the environment, the bench held.
An EC can be issued only after various stages of the decision-making process have been completed. The court was hearing an appeal against the January 8, 2016, decision of the National Green Tribunal bench for the western zone, which held a May 14, 2002 circular issued by the Union Environment and Forests Ministry as contrary to law. The circular envisaged the grant of ex post facto environmental clearance.
The bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi ordered: “Requirements such as conducting a public hearing, screening, scoping and appraisal are components of the decision-making process which ensure that the likely impacts of industrial activity or the expansion of an existing industrial activity are considered in the decision-making calculus. Allowing for an ex post facto clearance would essentially condone the operation of industrial activities without the grant of an EC. In the absence of an EC, there would be no conditions that would safeguard the environment…”
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