No environmental clearance needed for expansion of NH-744: NGT

R Meerakani, a resident of Tenkasi district, filed a petition against the project, saying that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is attempting to construct the highway without environmental clearance.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: Ruling that the expansion of National Highway-744 (NH-744) running between Thirumangalam in Tamil Nadu to Kollam in Kerala for 231 kilometres, does not require environmental clearance, the southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has dismissed a petition filed against the project.

R Meerakani, a resident of Tenkasi district, filed a petition against the project, saying that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is attempting to construct the highway without environmental clearance.

The petitioner also alleged that the project is not an expansion but a new highway and pointed out the proposed project is not along the existing road but running on a new alignment for 110.27 kilometres between Thirumangalam to Sengottai.

The petition also pointed out that the NHAI has not considered the other alternative to the proposed widening of the road and sought directions from the NGT to obtain environmental clearance under EIA Notification 2006.

On the other hand, NHAI stated that the Rajapalayam to Sengottai section of NH-744 has been included in Bharatmala Pariyojana by the central government. The project alignment has been finalised after studying various options and submitted the most feasible alignment proposal considering minimum damages to the environment and minimum social impact.

The Authority stated that expansion of national highways below 100 kilometres needs no prior environmental clearance, and the section between Rajapalayam to Sengottai was already declared as a national highway. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a new national highway and it is only an expansion of the existing national highway. Since, the existing road could not be widened due to continuous built up areas, sharp curves, poor geometry and others, it has been proposed to bypass for a length of 62.68 kilometres, the NHAI contended.

Citing the difficulties in taking up entire NH-744 for the expansion at once, the NHAI has segmented the project in components each covering less than 100 kilometres, which was opposed by the applicant.

Hearing the sides, the Tribunal observed that exemption has been given for speedy implementation of the highway projects involving the length less than 100 kilometres and additional right of way of 40 metres on existing alignments and 60 metres on realignments from the purview of the EIA Notification, 2006.

Apart from dismissing the application, NGT ruled that segmentation is possible unless it is a deliberate avoidance.

Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

Related Stories

No stories found.
DT next
www.dtnext.in