No environment impact assessment (EIA) or clearance has been obtained from any regulatory authority, noted the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, referring the issue to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) as it involves environmental clearance.
“The project which appears to be spread out in 1,50,000 sq km should be seen in its entirety and such a project involving such levels of construction mandatorily requires clearances from the regulatory authority as mandated under the Environment Protection Act and the rules,” the bench said. As the matter boils down to clearance under the Environment Protection Act and the rules framed under, it was better to allow the petitioners to move the NGT, it added.
It then extended the stay on the project by six weeks and directed the petitioner to move the NGT within four weeks. The bench also made it clear that the NGT may decide on vacating, modifying or substituting the orders as per law, and not be influenced by the court’s observations. Appearing for Iyarkai Valam Matrum Perumpalla Odia Nala Sangam, advocate T Mohan had submitted that the reclaiming the land status of the Odai to enable construction would result in a substantial part of the green patch being converted into concrete.
He also submitted that the government had split the project to make them appear as eight or nine separate projects to avert the mandatory requirement of undertaking an environment impact assessment for any project involving 20,000 sq feet and more near a waterbody.