Green nod to convert Assembly complex into hospital challenged

The National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, on Thursday issued notice (before admission) to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition filed by R. Veeramani, an advocate, challenging the environmental clearance granted by the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to convert the new Legislative Assembly cum Secretariat complex into a hospital.

A Bench of Justice C.V. Ramulu, Judicial Member, and Devendra Kumar Agarwal, Expert Member, after hearing senior counsel P. Wilson for the petitioner and Additional Advocate General Guru Krishna Kumar, posted the matter for further hearing on August 7 for a decision on admission.

Mr. Kumar, accepted the notice for the State and the Bench asked the petitioner’s counsel to serve notice on the SEIAA and the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SLEAC).

Mr. Veeramani, whose writ petition is pending in the Madras High Court, stated that when prior environmental clearance was obtained by the government for a specific project or activity and building constructed, the government could not now ask for a new project of activity that was not permissible.

The objections

Further the environmental notification dated September 14, 2006 would not permit any conversion from the original project or activities to any other project or activities after construction or establishment of a project or activity.

Fresh environmental clearance could not be sought for a newly constructed building based on earlier environmental clearance.

The SEIAA and the SLEAC did not have the power to give the fresh environmental clearance dated May 16, 2012 for conversion of the building into a hospital when the earlier environmental clearance was still valid.

The SEIAA and SLEAC failed to consider that since the building came within the purview of the CRZ notification and since the total value of the tender was more than Rs.25 core, only the Centre had the authority to grant environmental clearance.

Unknown procedure

The fresh clearance granted by the SEIAA was liable to be set aside as the building was located within 10 km from the Guindy National Park.

The environmental clearance sought for by the State even when the first clearance was alive and binding was an unknown procedure.

“Undue haste”

The SEIAA had not considered his objections and acted in undue haste and in an arbitrary manner without the application of mind.

He prayed for quashing the environmental clearance dated May 16 and stay of its operation.

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