NGT Directs NHAI To Pay 2 Crore Compensation For Violation Of ‘Green Highway Policy,2015’ .
The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel(chairperson), Justice Sudhir Agrawal (judicial member), Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi (Judicial Member), Dr. A.Senthil Vel, (expert member) of National Green Tribunal, principal bench, New Delhi directed the National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) to pay compensation of 2 crore to PCCF,Haryana for non compliance of environmental obligation and violation of Guidelines of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways titled ‘Green Highways, Policy, 2015’ for plantation, transportation, beautification and maintenance.
The application was filed against the NHAI on being aggrieved by non compliance of the environmental obligation in the course of construction of 8-lane highway No. 44 from Mukarba chowk to Singhu border, Delhi.
It was contended by the applicant party that in the nearby village Khampur a lot of dust is generated in absence of sprinkling of water. Other hotspots are Palla-Mod, Singhola Mod, Vaishvan Dhaba to Village Khampur. It was further submitted that 161 trees have been cut in January 2021. Though 1760 trees are claimed to have been planted, the same are at Garhi Mandu, near Yamuna Bank, 26 km away from Village Khampur which does not in any manner mitigate the dust generated by the project at the place where trees have been cut and thus do not substitute the environmental services of the cut trees.It was also contended that there is non compliance of Green Highway (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy, 2015. Secretary, Environment and Forest, Delhi, has issued an order for payment of compensation of Rs. 11,12,64,000/- in lieu of uprooting of 1952 trees but the NHAI has failed to make the said deposit.
On 21.11.2022 The Tribunal sought a factual report in the matter from CPCB and Director, Environment Department, Delhi. Accordingly, the joint committee submitted the report, to which NHAI failed to file any response. It was found in the report that NHAI has failed to take dust mitigation measures at various sites and the committee recommended that NHAI must comply with the conditions stipulated in the forest clearances.
After hearing both the sides the tribunal found that NHAI has failed to rebut the report. The tribunal said, “We do not see any reason not to accept the factual observations and recommendations mentioned in the report. NHAI is bound to take remedial measures for dust mitigation during construction and operation phases which include covering of the construction material while transporting and storing, sprinkling at regular intervals, plantation, removing encroachments from ROW and air quality monitoring of major parameters of air in the area with a view to take further mitigation measures having regard to massive violations”.
The tribunal held that, The report has shown massive violations of Guidelines of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways titled ‘Green Highways, Policy, 2015’ for plantation, transportation, beautification and maintenance. Apart from remedial measures, NHAI has to be held accountable for violations on polluter pays principle even if violations are by its officers or contractors.
The tribunal directed that remedial action to be taken expeditiously and for the past violation and NHAI to pay compensation of Rs. 2 Crores to be deposited with PCCF (HoFF), Haryana within one month.It will be in addition to levy of compensation by any other authority. The same should be utilized for restoration measures in the area by suitable plantation in addition to the remedial measures to be taken by NHAI by preparing an action plan with the approval of joint Committee of CPCB and Director, Environment, Delhi within one month.
Case title: Prem Prakash Prajapati v. Project Director, PIU Sonipat & Ors.
Original Application No. 838/2022