May 30, 2012 2:37:35 pm
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stopped authorities from taking any final decision to begin work on the country’s longest sea link from Sewri in Mumbai to Nhava in Navi Mumbai,saying the project entails questions on environment.
It said “substantial questions relating to environment are involved” in the over Rs 8,000 crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project (MTHLP) for building 22-km bridge on public-private partnership model.
The NGT asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to refrain from taking any final decision for commencement of work and sought replies of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),the State Maharashtra,Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Ltd.
The replies were sought on a petition by Mumbai-resident Dileep B Nevatia through advocate Rahul Chaudhary,challenging the project on the ground that its execution began seven years after issuance of the environmental clearance (EC) to it and it would now have adverse effect on the environment.
The environmental clearance for construction of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project was granted on March 11,2005 but no construction was carried during last seven years,the petitioner had told the panel.
The Tribunal has,however,allowed MMRDA to go ahead with tendering process for the project and agreed to hear the plea for stay on commencement of construction for MTHLP.
After hearing the counsel and going through records,we feel ends of justice and equity would be better served,if we direct MMRDA to complete the tender process but then not to take any final decision or issue the work order,if not already issued,without obtaining prior permission of this Tribunal, a bench headed by NGT’s Acting Chairperson A S Naidu said.
Advocate Ritwick Dutta,appearing for petitioner Nevatia said the environment clearance granted by MoEF has expired with lapse of five years on March 10,2010.
Admitting the plea for hearing,the bench said “we feel substantial questions relating to environment are involved in this case which needs to be considered. Accordingly,the appeal is admitted”.
Dutta had sought an interim order to restrain construction work.
The bench,restraining the authorities from going ahead with the construction,posted the case for further hearing on July 4.
Challenging the issuance of environment clearance,Dutta said the ecological significance of Sewri Mudflats region was not taken into consideration and the process of accord of nod was not duly followed as no public hearing was conducted after comprehensive Environment Impact Assessment Report was prepared in 2004.
The petitioner had sought interim directions for stay on the ongoing tender process and directions to avoid creation of third party interests.
The petition seeks a direction to MMRDA to obtain fresh environmental clearance for the MTHL Project.
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