Tamil Nadu

NGT says environmental clearance a must before starting construction projects

Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: istock/Kuzma

The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a recent order, has insisted on the sanctity of getting necessary environmental clearances (ECs) before starting construction projects.

In two recent orders, it came down heavily on two construction agencies based on petitions that they had not received ECs before proceeding with construction. In one instance, a private builder in Chennai was restrained from proceeding with constructing a 27-floor apartment complex in Tondiarpet and the NGT has asked authorities to take action against the builder for violating EC guidelines. In the second instance, the NGT imposed a fine of ₹8 crore on a builder in Coimbatore.

In the first case, a case was filed Voora Property Developers Pvt Ltd claiming the builder had proceeded to construct the property without obtaining Environmental Clearance. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board were directed to form a joint committee, and submit a factual report. The committee informed the NGT that construction of the foundation work had been completed without obtaining the EC. Counsel for the builder submitted before the Tribunal that they had stopped the work and the application for the EC was pending with the EIAA. The counsel submitted that the builder will proceed with construction only after getting the necessary EC.

The Tribunal observed: “As per the EIA Notification, 2006, the project cannot proceed without getting prior Environmental Clearance except to the extent of construction of temporary fencing and some temporary sheds for the guards. The photographs show that foundation work has been done without getting EC,” the bench said.

The bench directed the builder to restrain from proceeding with further construction without getting EC and meeting other required conditions and directed authorities to initiate action after giving the company reasonable opportunity to respond. The bench also directed the Committee to assess the environmental compensation for the violation and submit a compliance report within two months.

Coimbatore builder

The NGT imposed a fine of ₹8 crore on a builder as environmental damages for constructing 340 residential flats in Keeranathan Village in Coimbatore without obtaining EC, and ordered M/S KGISL Technologies and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd to deposit the money with the Central Pollution Control Board within two months.

The applicant alleged that the builder began construction activities and only after substantial progress was made, had applied for prior environmental clearance. He said this fact was established in a letter issued by the SEIAA to the department of Environment and Forest, Tamil Nadu. He sought a direction to the authorities “to demolish the unauthorised and unlawful construction, initiate legal action under the Air and Water Act, and impose damages to pay environmental compensation”.

The Tribunal ordered the company to pay environmental compensation of ₹8 crore on Tuesday and directed a committee to be formed to submit an inspection report.

Counsel for the builder told The Hindu that the company had been denied natural justice. “We are of the opinion that we have clearly been denied natural justice and hence we can approach the high court to stay the order and request for review of the same,” he said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 10:59:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ngt-says-environmental-clearance-a-must-before-starting-construction-projects/article30613176.ece

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