Notice ordered to the PWD returnable by two weeks

A batch of writ petitions have been filed in the Madras High Court Bench here challenging the refusal of National Green Tribunal to restrain Public Works Department from quarrying sand in 11 different locations in Cauvery and Kollidam riverbeds.

When the matter came up before a Division Bench of Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice V.M. Velumani, it ordered notice to the PWD returnable by two weeks.

Kollidam Aaru Padhugappu Nala Sangam, represented by its president R. Subramanian, filed the batch of cases.

Tribunal approached

The petitioner’s counsel R. Nandakumar pointed out that his client had approached the tribunal challenging the validity of environment clearance granted by State-Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority to the PWD for quarrying sand from 11 spots in the two rivers.

In the pleadings before the tribunal, the petitioner had contended that the State-level authority was not competent to issue such clearance.

Nevertheless, the tribunal permitted the PWD to continue quarrying for six months “in view of economic and social needs and public interest at large.”

Fiat to PWD officials

In the meantime, the PWD officials were directed to make necessary applications for obtaining environment clearances in accordance with Union Ministry of Environment and Forests’ new guidelines which came into force across the country from December 24, 2013.

Assailing the tribunal’s order, the writ petitioner contended that it ought not to have permitted the PWD to continue quarrying on ad hoc basis when it had been proved that the environment clearance given by the State-level authority was clearly without jurisdiction.