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Environmental group challenges clearance for neutrino project

Calls for penal action against members of appraisal committee

April 24, 2018 01:00 am | Updated April 25, 2018 05:41 pm IST - CHENNAI

DINDIGUL, 17/07/2012: Bodi west hills at Pottipuram near Devaram in Theni district, where the Neutrino observatory will come.
Photo: G. Karthikeyan

DINDIGUL, 17/07/2012: Bodi west hills at Pottipuram near Devaram in Theni district, where the Neutrino observatory will come. Photo: G. Karthikeyan

Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental group, has moved the National Green Tribunal’s principal bench in New Delhi, challenging the environmental clearance granted to the neutrino observatory project in Theni district.

The appeal also sought direct penal action against members of the Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra-2) for acting beyond their jurisdiction and recommending the project for grant of EC in violation of the EIA notification, 2006. Besides, it sought a departmental inquiry against officers of the Environment Ministry for giving illegal directions to the EAC.

G. Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, who filed the appeal, sought a detailed and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted by an accredited agency, with “expertise in this specific field looking at the entire project in totality, given that it is the first of its kind in the entire country”.

In his petition, Mr. Sundarrajan said the EAC had no statutory power to appraise a project under Item 89(a) of the Schedule to the EIA notification. Hence, the EC is liable to be quashed for want of jurisdiction.

‘No EIA carried out’

He further submitted that the project was proposed to come up at a site that is in close proximity to several identified ecologically sensitive area in the Western Ghats.

“As per the recommendations of the High Level Working Group, headed by Dr. Kasturirangan, there is complete prohibition and ban on building and construction projects of 20,000 m2. Further, the report has recommended that there should be complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining in an environmentally sensitive area (ESA).

The petitioner said that no impact assessment had been conducted despite the fact that the project site is within an ESA.

“There has been a complete neglect of the precautionary principle by the respondents,” he said.

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