HC stays NGT order to penalise govt. for sorry state of city rivers

April 10, 2019 12:00 am | Updated 03:45 am IST - CHENNAI

Public Works Department Secretary files writ petition challenging tribunal order

Big penalty:The NGT had fixed the compensation at Rs. 100 crore for damage caused to the environment.

Big penalty:The NGT had fixed the compensation at Rs. 100 crore for damage caused to the environment.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of an order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on February 13, tentatively fixing Rs. 100 crore as the compensation to be paid by the State government for the damage caused to the environment in view of its consistent failure to clean up Adyar and Cooum rivers, apart from the Buckingham canal.

A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy granted the interim stay following a writ petition filed by the State, represented by its Public Works Department Secretary, challenging the entire order passed by the NGT’s Principal Bench in New Delhi on February 13.

Though the NGT had also insisted on the personal presence of the Chief Secretary before it on April 23 and directed a committee headed by the official to meet every fortnight to review the progress of the ongoing cleaning process, the Division Bench refused to interfere and adjourned the writ petition by two weeks for further hearing.

Explaining the history of the issue, the PWD told the court that a petition was filed before the NGT in 2016 for cleaning the Buckingham canal alone by removing the debris, water hyacinth and other plants and by plugging the sewer inlets.

The tribunal admitted the petition and the PWD continued to file periodic reports on the steps taken to clean the canal.

Steps taken for cleaning

In 2017, the NGT clubbed the petition along with two other petitions related to the cleaning of Adyar and Cooum rivers.

Subsequently, it was informed that steps had been taken by the Chennai River Restoration Trust to restore the waterbodies.

Subsequently, when efforts were on to restore the canal, the head of the NGT’s Chennai bench retired from service and therefore the principal bench in New Delhi began hearing the petition. Expressing dissatisfaction over the works, the tribunal decided to collect compensation of Rs. 100 crore and hence the present writ petition.

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