Environment Protection Act Passed at the Instance of Foreign Powers: NHAI in Karnataka HC

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) claimed in a submission that the Environment Protection Act 1986 was passed not only for the protection of the environment by the parliament but also at the instance of foreign powers. This statement was made while referring to a UN conference and got the NHAI into great trouble in the Karnataka High Court.

This submission was made by the Deputy Manager of NHAI in response to a writ petition filed by the NGO, United Conservation Movement, against a notification of the Union Environment Ministry in 2013 which dealt with doing away with environmental impact assessment reports for widening national highways by more than 40 meters, that are over 100 Km.

The NHAI also stated in its submissions that many NGOs ask for the upholding of the norms of the act at the instance of foreign powers. On January 11th, during a hearing, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Ajay Oka in strong opposition to this claimed it as ‘shocking’.

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On January 19, the High Court insisted that the NHAI responds as to how the submissions were filed.

Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum who was also a part of the bench said that the court cannot just casually allow withdrawal of such a bold stand that the NHAI has taken saying that the Environment protection act was not just made for the protection of the environment but at the instance of foreign powers.

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The NHAI says the Environmental Protection act 1986 is to provide for the protection of the environment, whereas the decisions were taken at the UN Conference held at Stockholm on Human Environment in 1972 in which India participated, to take the right steps towards protection and the development of the environment.

Thus, NHAI says that the Environment Protection Act has not been enacted just for the protection but also at the instance of foreign powers. Foreign entities like Amnesty International through Indian Counterparts have filed writ petitions under Article 32 in Furtherance of vested interests.

However, the High Court has directed the NHAI Chairman to assign a very senior member to look into the was the statement of objections has been filed. The court stated that the NHAI being an agency of the state is under the obligation to explain the procedure if any that was adopted for finalizing the statements of objections.


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