The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Pune bench, has ordered a panel probe into National Highway Authority of India’s alleged violations of specific conditions imposed on it by the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to it for up-gradation of 2 lane carriageway to 4 lanes of Khed-Sinnar Section of NH-50 Pune-Nashik Highway in the state of Maharashtra.
The present application had been filed under Section 14 read with Section 15(3) and Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 raising issues of serious concern regarding blatant violation of the conditions of Environmental Clearance (EC) issued under the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006, by respondents no. 4- National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Respondent no. 4 had been granted EC by the Respondent No. 1 in 2013 for up-gradation of 2 lane carriageway to 4 lanes of Khed-Sinnar Section of NH-50 Pune-Nashik Highway in the state of Maharashtra. The respondent no. 4 had violated the specific conditions related to limit of forest land allowed to be diverted for construction of impugned highway, avenue plantation of trees and rainwater harvesting along the impugned highway. The clearance letter imposed Specific conditions related to limit of forest land allowed to be diverted, avenue plantation and rainwater harvesting system.
Arguments Before the Court
The applicant claimed that Specific Conditions specifying the permissible amount of forest land diversions, construction of rainwater harvesting infrastructure, following of IRC guidelines for up-gradation of road and amount of trees to be planted as compensatory afforestation has not been complied with.
The case dealt with Section 14 read with Section 15(3) and Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Section 14 discusses how the Tribunal can settle disputes.
Section 20: Tribunal to apply certain principles. –The Tribunal shall while passing any order or decision or award, apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pay principle.
Court’s Observation and Decision
The NGT bench comprising of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal ordered just and proper to constitute a Committee consisting of:
- Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Maharashtra
- A representative of NHAI, and
- Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF), MoEF&CC, Regional Office, Pune.
The Court also directed them to submit a factual and action taken report with regard to allegations made in the present application within 6 weeks. The Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Regional Office of the Environment Ministry in Pune shall serve as the nodal agency. The matter shall be next heard on 11th December 2020.
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