Says state govt deliberately avoided env clearance by initially raising construction over less area
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed its disquiet over the “deliberate” non-compliance of environmental laws by the Uttarakhand government in constructing the new Legislative Assembly building as it said, “compliance of law and the steps to be taken for it, in the instant case, was all the more necessary because the building coming up is a State Legislative Assembly”.
A bench of Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and expert member Dr. Satyawan Singh Garbyal was unhappy with how the necessary environmental clearance was given a go-by on the pretext that construction is raised over an area less than 20,000 sqm only to be followed by a subsequent act of raising the construction up to 25,000 sqm.
Noting that now an application has been filed for environmental clearance, the tribunal said, “The aforesaid facts regarding the steps to be taken by the State was to be with more sincerity. They ought to have set an example so as comply with law within time and there should not have been any occasion for a person to have raised such a question against them, of non-compliance of environmental laws.”
The bench has now directed NBCC General Manager to be present before it on October 11.
The tribunal has been hearing a petition filed by environmental activist Vikrant Tongad stating that the new Assembly building being constructed at the Gairsain area of Chamoli district in central Uttarakhand does not have any environmental clearance despite being in an eco-sensitive area.
The new building is set to have the Assembly building, offices, VIP residences, hostel and a helipad. There is no provision for sewage treatment, as alleged.
When the respondents submitted that they have applied for consent to establish, the tribunal remarked, “It is a matter of great surprise that when construction of the building was so proposed, steps ought to have been taken for obtaining consent to establish. But the same was never done. Further, it appears that initial construction was deliberately raised of an area less than 20,000 sq. mts. because of the subsequent act of raising the construction upto 25,000 sq. mts., itself shows that the requirement was, from the very beginning of more than 20,000 sq. mtrs. However, after the increase of the constructed area of more than 20,000 sq. mtrs., it was incumbent upon the Respondent to have obtained Environmental Clearance also.”
When informed that an application for environmental clearance has also been filed, the bench said, “Such a step by itself is no compliance of the law. The respondents ought to have obtained environmental clearance the moment they felt the need for additional construction, which is now admittedly more than 25,000 sq. mtrs.”