Upholding a National Green Tribunal Order, the Supreme Court imposed damages of Rs.100 crores or 10% of the project cost, whichever is higher, on Goel Ganga Developers India Pvt. Ltd. for raising construction in violation of the Environmental Clearance.
The bench comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also upheld the fine imposed upon the PMC and the direction given to the PMC to take appropriate action against the erring officials.
Tanaji Balasaheb Gambhire approached the NGT claiming that the project proponent (PP) i.e. M/s. Goel Ganga Developers India Pvt. Ltd., had raised construction in violation of the Environmental Clearance granted for the project and also in violation of the various municipal laws.
The NGT directed PP To pay environmental compensation cost of Rs. 100 crores or 5% (Five percent) of the total cost of project to be assessed by SEAC. PP was also directed to pay a sum of Rs. 5 crores for contravening mandatory provision of several Environmental Laws in carrying out the construction activities in addition to and exceeding limit of the available environment clearance and for not obtaining the consent from the Board. It also imposed fine of Rs. 5 Lakhs upon the PMC and direct Commissioner PMC to take appropriate action against the erring officers. .It also directed the Chief Secretary, State of Maharashtra and the competent authority to take notice of the conduct of the officers concerned who have misled the Department of Environment in the matter relating to interpretation of F.S.I and BUA in terms of which order dated 31st May, 2016 has been issued in particular the Principal Secretary, Department of Environment who has authored the order dated 31st May, 2016.
Against this order, both the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Project proponent approached the Apex court. While this appeal was pending, the applicant filed review before NGT which modified environmental compensation as 190 Crores. Thereafter the applicant also filed appeal challenging the original order as well as reviewed order praying that demolition of the illegal structures be ordered and the compensation be enhanced to Rs.500 crores.
The SC Order
All these appeals were disposed of with following directives by the bench comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta.
Demolition Is Not The Answer
The bench also rejected the prayer seeking demolition by observing thus: “Keeping in view the interest of these third parties who were not parties before the NGT, we are of the view that in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, demolition is not the answer. This would put innocent people at loss. Normally, this Court is loathe to legalize illegal constructions but in the present case we have no option but to do so.”
Read the Judgment Here