NGT order “will not stop the institute from doing repair works in buildings’’
The permission sought by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras to go ahead with the ongoing construction activities on its campus was rejected by the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench here on Monday.
Declining to grant any relief as sought by the IIT, the Bench comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and Prof. R. Nagendran said, “In view of appraisement of facts and circumstances, the Tribunal reiterates that the original interim injunction was granted on March 4, restraining the IIT, Madras from cutting or felling trees and also any new construction activities within the campus.”
The Tribunal also made it clear that the order would not impede the institute in anyway from doing any repair works either civil or electrical in the existing buildings.
On March 4, the NGT had passed the interim order on an application filed by E. Seshan, an environmental activist who alleged that the IIT- M had already cleared more than 8,000 trees between 2001 and 2013 without any statutory permission from authorities. He also said there were reports that the green patches were to be cleared for construction of buildings and additional facilities.
On March 13, the IIT management approached the NGT to relax its interim order so that it could complete the ongoing construction activities.
When the matter came up hearing before the Tribunal on Monday, Vijay Narayanan, senior counsel appearing for the IIT filed a reply statement seeking to vacate the interim order.
The IIT said that a few projects have been either under way or in the process of completion. Stopping them caused great hardship to the students.
“This has a serious negative impact on the academic activity and facility such as insufficient classrooms and accommodation for the students,” it added.
However, Prof. Nagendran orally observed that nowhere in the reply, the IIT stated that it obtained consent from authorities before proceeding with the construction activities.
Mr. Justice Chockalingam also said, “It is an admitted fact. Not even scrap of paper was produced so far to show that the construction activities began after obtaining consent from the authority.”
He also wondered why the Union government, the State government or any authorities had not issued any notice to the institute even after the Tribunal took up the matter.
The Tribunal also directed the Estate Officer of IIT to be present before it along with connected files at the next hearing. It also directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and authorities in State government to file their replies on May 5.