In an submission before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench, the State government alleged that the appeal filed against environmental clearance for the conversion of the new secretariat-cum-assembly structure was politically motivated and intended to prevent the commencement of a super speciality hospital at the site
In this regard, Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishan made his submission to the NGT’s Bench comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R.Nagendran who was hearing the appeal filed by R. Veeramani, an advocate against environmental clearance granted by the State Level Impact Assessment Authority (SIEAA) on May 16,2011 for the conversion of the structure into hospital.
Mr. Navaneethakrishnan said the Madras High Court had dismissed writ petitions challenging the policy decision of government for the conversion and this had been upheld by the Supreme Court also. Hence, the appeal was infractuous as the conversion of the building is not before the Tribunal. Attacking another ground raised by the appellant, the AG said that the SIEAA was very much competent to issue the clearance for conversion. It was constituted by the Union government and not the State government. The authority, comprising the experts group, granted the clearance for second clearance in accordance with law only after consideration of several aspects.
He said “the law is very clear that the SIEAA is empowered to grant such second clearance for the conversion.” The government is very much committed to render medical assistance to the poor people at affordable rates. Hence, they planned the hospital at the site, he said.
Terming the appeal as vexatious, the AG said, “It is abuse of process of law to stall the multi-superspecialty hospital project from taking off. The appellant’s real intention is that the building should be used only as secretariat and not for the hospital. Hence the appeal is politically motivated. His contention that the hospital cannot be put up at the site is not sustainable. .”
He also contended that the appellant had not pointed to any specific statutory violation of environmental laws in granting environmental clearance by SEIAA.
Mr. Navaneethakrishan also alleged that only the consent to establish the new secretariat-cum-assembly was obtained in 2008. However, sittings were conducted without obtaining ‘consent to operate’ from the Tamil Nadu Pollution control. The arguments will continue on Thursday.