National Green Tribunal (NGT) today expressed displeasure with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its new notification which exempts real estate developers from obtaining prior Environmental Clearance (EC). The green court has also restrained it from granting fresh permissions for costruction under the new regulation. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also sent a warning to MoEF saying, “You can’t do legal blunders and get away with it”.
MoEF’s new notification published on December 9, last year exempts buildings and construction projects of all sizes from the process of environment impact assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance before beginning construction. NGT has came down heavily on MoEF for not ‘applying its mind’ while making amendments on the notification.
For smaller projects (less than 20,000 sq metres), it even has a “self-declaration” clause, which will ensure issuance of permission from urban local bodies. For larger projects of more than 20,000 sq m size, the EC and building permission will be given by urban local bodies simultaneously in an “integrated format”.
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“Why don’t you (MoEF) do something constructive for the system. There is a way of doing things….We don’t understand why do you do these funny things….If you wanted to amend the notification, you could have simply said,” the bench said.
“You tell your ministry and all others not to act under the new notification, otherwise we will stay the notification,” it added.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity seeking to quash the December 9 notification on the grounds that it was in contravention of the provisions EIA notification, 2006 and Environment Protection Act, 1986. The matter is now listed for next hearing on January 12.
(With agency inputs)