The observations came while hearing a plea related to the felling of more than 350 trees for the construction of ROBs as well as widening of NH-112 from Barasat to Petrapole on the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state of West Bengal.
Recently, the Supreme Court said that it would consider laying down a protocol to be followed for infrastructure projects such as road widening which requires cutting of trees. The protocol will be introduced so that there is minimum damage to the environment. Besides, the apex court said it did not consider it tenable that if the road is less than the length of 100 kilometres then Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is not necessary. According to a PTI report, the observations came while hearing a plea related to the felling of more than 350 trees for the construction of ROBs as well as widening of NH-112 from Barasat to Petrapole on the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state of West Bengal.
According to a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, the protocol would ensure that alternatives adopted for the project cause less damage to the environment. A four-member committee set up by the Supreme Court informed it that before executing a project of national importance, EIA is desired and this has not been done in the project that is under consideration. According to the committee, the state authorities are considering the project under consideration as an independent project which is affecting only 59.2 km distance.
According to a circular issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, if a road project has less than 100 kilometres length, then there is no need to get EIA from any government agency. In the present case, such an argument is an attempt to circumvent the land law. The panel said that it feels deriving such conclusion is erroneous and requires rethinking on the part of West Bengal. The EIA should be taken up before starting the work related to the project related, according to the committee members, the panel further said.
The report further said Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, referred to the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and said that in Char Dham project, roads were divided into smaller segments in a bid to avoid EIA. The Supreme Court said prima facie, it doesn’t consider it tenable that if the road is less than the length of 100 kilometres then EIA is not necessary. According to the top court, the whole environment is the land of everybody thus, there is no question of this government and that government. The matter has now been posted for hearing on February 18, by the bench.