Government to drop legal action against IIT-M


Accused of flouting environment norms

The State government has decided to drop legal action against the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) for its delay in obtaining environment clearances for constructions on its campus. The reputation of the IIT as an institution of national importance has prompted the government to treat it as a special case.

The institution had been accused of flouting environment norms in constructing buildings on its campus, located adjacent to the Guindy National Park. The allegation was that it had cleared many trees to facilitate the constructions. The proposals for building two new hostels led to litigation in the National Green Tribunal, which intervened with a stay order.

However, official sources now revealed that the institution might escape legal action, recommended under laws whenever post-facto clearances are given for such projects.

The June 16 letter from the Principal Secretary to Government for Environment, Hans Raj Verma, to the Registrar of IIT-M, accessed by The Hindu, said that the IIT-M is an institution of national importance, higher technology learning and a research institute.

The letter said from the representations of the IIT-M authorities, it was learnt that the institution was very conscious of the biodiversity of the campus. It had increased the green cover on the campus from 20 per cent to 70 per cent.

In view of these facts, the government decided to treat the IIT-M as a special case and condone the delay in applying for environmental clearance. It also decided to drop any further legal action against the IIT-M, the letter further said.

However, activists of the Save Guindy National Park Campaign said that environment laws did not have provisions for exempting prosecution of the violators. “The Environment Protection Act offers no room for discretion by the State government in condoning offences. The government has no choice but to initiate credible action against IIT-M and its officials,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a member of the campaign.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2020 8:50:47 AM |

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