NGT orders immediate demolition of luxury project

Green panel imposes ₹31 crore penalty; amount to be used for demolition of structure, restoration of area to original position

July 30, 2021 09:43 pm | Updated July 31, 2021 07:35 am IST - New Delhi

The National Green Tribunal on Friday quashed the environmental clearance (EC) granted to a high-rise luxury project by Godrej Properties Limited and Wonder Projects Development Private Limited in Bengaluru and directed its immediate demolition.

The green panel also imposed a penalty of ₹31 crore on the project proponent and said the amount shall be used for demolition of the constructions, restoration of the area to the original position, rejuvenation and reforestation of the Kaikondarahalli lake and its surrounding area.

A bench headed by by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also imposed a cost of ₹10 lakh on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike which allowed construction/alteration of Storm Water Drain passing through the project site illegally. “EC dated January 10, 2018 is quashed,” the bench said.

The order came on a petition filed by Bengaluru resident H.P. Rajanna against the project, Godrej Reflections, being built at Kasavanahalli village in Varthur Hobli in Bengaluru Urban district.

Noting that the construction raised by the project proponent commenced even before the grant of Consent to Establish by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and in violation of conditions of the EC, the NGT directed that the constructions made on site shall be demolished immediately.

“We impose compensation for damage to environment as 10 per cent of the cost of project. The cost of project mentioned in the application submitted for grant of EC was ₹310 crore, hence project proponent is directed to pay ₹31 crores. “This amount shall be used for demolition of the constructions as per direction (ii), restoration of the area to the original position, rejuvenation and reforestation etc. of the Kaikondarahalli lake and its surrounding area,” the bench said.

The tribunal said the penalty shall be utilised by preparing a restoration plan by the said authority with the assistance of the BBMP, KSPCB and Central Pollution Control Board. Restoration plan shall be executed by State Wetland Authority and BBMP which may also be overseen by KSPCB and CPCB, it said.

The restoration plan be prepared within two months and executed within one year, the NGT said while making it clear that if any amount remains available after undertaking the restoration work, the same will be utilised by the Wetland Authority for maintenance and beautification of the lakes in question. “If the amount is found to be deficient, the deficiency will be made up by BBMP. If any question remains unresolved, but in the authorities, the National Wetland Authority is directed to resolve the same,” the bench said.

The tribunal said the confidence of the project proponent in proceeding ahead at different levels without caring for Statuary Provisions, Procedures and Environmental Laws, supported by some of the statutory authorities is evident by the conduct of senior officers of various departments who were appointed members of the Committee by Tribunal and Environment Ministry, yet they defied the same. “It appears that in a concerted way, some officials have acted to somehow justify patent illegality and bold defiance of law on the part of project proponent.

“Clearly, there is an evident lack of bona fide on the part of the officials and this conduct deserves to be strongly condemned. We will request Secretary, MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest) to look into the matter and take appropriate action against such erring officials,” the bench said.

Rajanna challenged a State Environment Impact Assessment Authority order dated January 10, 2018, granting an EC to the project at survey nos. 61/2, 62 and 63/2, Kasavanahalli village, Varthur Hobli, Bengaluru East Taluk and Bengaluru district.

A spokesperson from Godrej Properties in a statement, said, “ ... We follow all concerned regulations and are confident of our compliance in this project. We are in the process of challenging the order.”

(With inputs from Bengaluru)

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