Signature Bridge awaits green nod

The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) three-week deadline has ended long ago, but Delhi’s iconic Rs. 1,131 crore worth first cable-suspended Signature Bridge awaits green clearance.

The Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC) on Sunday launched another limb of its central pylon, one of the most crucial parts of the giant structure from which cables will be suspended to hold the bridge.

Even as the construction work is in full swing, the structure is yet to get environmental clearance from the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), as ordered by the tribunal on February 12 in part due to failure of the Centre to reconstitute SEIAA for almost a year.

Delhi like every other State has SEIAA constituted and reconstituted by the Centre for a term of three years under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act. SEIAA comprises three members nominated by the State government and it appraises projects, new or those to be expanded, for their impact on environment and scope.

The tenure of the erstwhile SEIAA had expired in August, 2014.

A new SEIAA was reconstituted only in April, 2015. With no SEIAA in existence around the time the NGT passed the order, the DTTDC had approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests for clearance where the matter remained pending till some time ago.

The NGT had on February 12 directed the DTTDC to obtain clearance for Signature Bridge within three weeks after ruling that the structure at Wazirabad is an area development project with entry 8(b) of schedule to the EIA regulation and therefore needs green clearance.

This was in contrast to the stand of the MoEF that Signature Bridge does not need any clearance. The work on the bridge was though not stayed by the tribunal in larger public interest.

In compliance of the NGT judgement, the DTTDC wrote to SEIAA on February 27 for clearance. However, in March, it was informed that though category B projects/ activities are considered at State level, the tenure of the erstwhile SEIAA of Delhi had expired in August, 2014, and no further processing of cases is possible till the reconstituted SEIAA is notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The process of notifying the reconstituted SEIAA was then under process by the MoEF. The DTTDC was told to approach the MoEF since the 2006 EIA notification says that in absence of State-level SEIAA, category B projects have to be considered at the Central level. Following this, the DTTDC submitted an application seeking environmental clearance for Signature Bridge on March 27.

The matter was left pending for almost three months. The DTTDC approached the MoEF again sometime in July when it was told that an online application needed to be submitted for grant of clearance. The same, however, could not be done due to some problem in the server at its end.

After all this, when an online application was finally made by the DTTDC early this month before the MoEF, it was told to go back to SEIAA as the same now stood reconstituted and notified, informed a senior official.

The DTTDC is now hurrying up to move SEIAA for environmental clearance.

With no SEIAA in existence around the time the NGT passed the order, the DTTDC had approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests for clearance

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 7:48:04 AM |

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