January 20, 2021 2:45:12 am
THE SUPREME COURT on Tuesday ruled against segmentation of national highway projects extending over 100 km into smaller packages to avoid environment impact assessment.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao, however, said it is not an expert on the issue and asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to set up an expert committee to examine if such segmentation was permissible and, if so, under what circumstance.
Setting aside a Madras High Court order, the bench also comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said there is no requirement for securing environmental clearances for expanding NH 45-A Villuppuram-Nagapattinam Highway (extending 179.555 km in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry) as land acquisition is not more than 40 m on existing alignments and 60 m on realignments or by-passes.
“Having held that… segmentation of a project cannot be adopted as a strategy to avoid environmental clearance impact assessment, the question that arises is whether segmentation of a national highway beyond 100km is impermissible under any circumstance. As we lack the expertise of deciding upon this issue, we are of the considered view that an expert committee should examine the permissibility of segmentation,” the bench said.
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