CFE given for commercial Karwar port project illegal, says High Court

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday held as illegal the consent for establishment (CFE) granted by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for the second stage development of the commercial Karwar port at Baithkol village in Karwar in July 2020.

However, the court allowed the KSPCB to take a fresh decision for grant of CFE within a month by adhering to the provisions of the laws related to control of air and water pollution. It accepted the undertaking given by the KPSCB to carry out a fresh inspection and process to consider the application for grant of CFE made by the port officer, Karwar.

Also, the court directed the government to ensure all the terms and conditions of the Environment Clearance granted on January 2019 by the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority were scrupulously followed and implemented while carrying out the project. The court said that work of second stage development cannot commence until the KSPCB grants CFE.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj passed the order while partly allowing a PIL petition filed by the Uttara Kannada District Fishermen’s Association Forum, Karwar. Except for finding illegality in the KSPCB process, the Bench rejected all the other objections raised by the petitioner against the project.

While pointing out a series of procedural lapses in the process adopted by the KSPCB in granting CFE, the Bench said the jurisdictional environmental officer had not inquired into the extent of possible air and water pollution which may be caused by the project and in what manner the project’s proponent was going to deal with the pollution and control it.

“Apart from the shocking manner in which the KSPCB dealt with the applications made by the port officer for grant of consent for establishment, the entire process is vitiated because of the non-application of mind, non-consideration of the relevant factors, and the illegality in the decision-making process,” the Bench said.

The Bench also observed that the KSPCB was required to act as a watchdog against the pollution of both air and water, but had, in this case, acted in a “very casual manner” by ignoring the very object of the Act concerned.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:40:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/cfe-given-for-commercial-karwar-port-project-illegal-says-high-court/article35617236.ece

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