SC stays NGT order asking Railway, Metro to seek EC for projects

These projects are meant to reduce pollution, make transport eco-friendly: AG

In a green signal to the concept of Metro rail services revolutionising public transport in major cities, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of May 31, 2016, requiring Metro Rail services to take mandatory and prior environment clearances for all its projects.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar stayed the order passed by the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on a plea that Noida Metro Rail constructions fell under Schedule 8(b) of Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, which relates to buildings, construction and development projects.

Though the NGT order focussed on the Noida Metro Rail, its shadow was cast on all metro constructions and expansion projects across the country. The tribunal had required the same environment clearance condition from the Railways’ Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL).

Appearing for the PSUs, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi termed the imposition of a condition of prior clearance on Metro projects in the cities and the dedicated freight corridors as “ridiculous.”

These projects, he submitted, are meant to reduce pollution and make transport eco-friendly. Mr. Rohatgi said the Metro and freight corridors are symbols of sustainable development.

“The Metro’s city projects are spreading to over a dozen cities. There are over 50 Metro stations in Delhi and Mumbai each. Places are being dug up for expansion. We are trying to remedy pollution by inviting people to travel with us... Our main purpose is development and sustainable development,” Mr. Rohatgi said.

He said the NGT should demand environmental clearances from polluting industries and not the Metro. Mr. Rohatgi referred to some notifications to point out that Metro projects do not require clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

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