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Supreme Court asks Centre why environment regulator has not been set up

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to explain why it had not set up an “independent environment regulator” to oversee green clearances.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to find out and report to the court.

The lapse was highlighted by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who said the top court had ordered the setting up of a national environment regulatory body to ensure independent oversight of green clearances way back in July 2011 in Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited v. Union of India, commonly known as the ‘Lafarge mining case’.

“Environment impact assessment has been made into a farce,” Mr. Bhushan submitted.

“Do you know we found that the Wildlife Board of India has not met in six years?” Chief Justice Bobde exclaimed.

“All government regulations have been dismantled...” Mr. Bhushan voiced his concern, in reply.

In 2011, the court had asked the Centre to appoint a national regulator for appraising projects, enforcing environmental conditions for approvals and to impose penalties on polluters.

In that order, the court had explained the need for an independent regulatory mechanism, saying the “identification of an area as forest area is solely based on the declaration to be filed by the user agency [project proponent]. The project proponent under the existing dispensation is required to undertake EIA by an expert body/institution”.

The court had made it clear that till such mechanism was put in place, the Environment Ministry (MoEF) “should prepare a panel of accredited institutions from which alone the project proponent should obtain the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and, that too, on the Terms of Reference to be formulated by the MoEF”.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 1:12:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-asks-centre-why-environment-regulator-has-not-been-set-up/article34026356.ece

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