NGT to MoEF: You can’t do legal blunders and get away with it

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New Delhi, January 5: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday reproved Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over its recent notification exempting real estate projects from obtaining prior environmental clearance (EC) and restrained it from granting further permission under the new regulation.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar rebuked MoEF for not “applying its mind” before amending the notification published on December 9, 2016.

You can’t do legal blunders and get away with it, said NGT.

The notification exempts real estate building and construction projects of all sizes from the process of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance before beginning construction.

Why don’t you (MoEF) do something constructive for the system. There is a way of doing things, said the panel.

“We don’t understand why do you do these funny things….If you wanted to amend the notification, you could have simply said that though the new projects are not required to take EC, but each project when cleared by local authorities would have certain conditions imposed on it.

“You tell your ministry and all others not to act under the new notification, otherwise we will stay the notification.

“You can’t do legal blunders and get away with it,” the bench said.

The NGT also granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the panel if even a single permission is granted under the new notification.

The next hearing is on January 12.

Earlier the panel did not refuse to stay the December 9 notification by MoEF but issued notices to the ministry and sought their reply before January 4, 2017.

The plea against December 9 notification was filed by Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity on the grounds that the regulation was in contravention to the provisions of EIA notification, 2006 and Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Slamming urban local bodies and development authorities for failing to do their Job, the plea alleged that the notification circumvents the provisions in the name of “ease of doing business” for building and construction of areas which are more than 20,000 sqm and less than 150,000 sqm. Earlier prior EC was required for these projects.

Wefornews Bureau

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