Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding effective monitoring mechanism for compliance of environment clearance conditions, 31/07/2020
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Sandeep Mittal Vs Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change & Others dated 31/07/2020.
The question for consideration was the steps to be taken for effectiveness of monitoring mechanism for compliance of conditions of Environmental Clearance (EC) as per Notification dated 14.09.2006 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Environment Impact Assessment is an essential component of the ‘Precautionary’ as well as the ‘Sustainable Development’ principles. Laying down conditions for EC based on appraisal was not enough unless compliance thereof was duly monitored and ensured with a view to achieve the said object.
Faced with the grievance that there was flagrant violation of conditions of Environmental Clearance and adequate monitoring was not taking place, vide order dated 30.10.2018, the Tribunal observed that compliance of conditions of Environmental Clearance must be monitored on periodical basis, atleast once in a quarter. Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) was directed to review and strengthen the mechanism for the purpose and furnish a report. The matter has thereafter been considered on several dates including 29.04.2019, 23.07.2019 and 22.11.2019. It has been repeatedly found that the mechanism for monitoring environmental norms was inadequate, as a result of which there was rampant violation of Environmental Clearance (EC) conditions, as noted by the Tribunal in several cases.
In pursuance of above, an affidavit was filed by MoEF&CC on 01.02.2020 which only mentioned that there were certain proposals to strengthen the monitoring mechanism. "This only shows insensitivity to the vital constitutional obligation despite repeated directions. Repeated plea of merely having such proposals, without effective enforcement on the ground can hardly be held to be satisfactory," the court said. The NGT directed the MoEF&CC to take effective steps to discharge its Constitutional obligation to advance “Precautionary” and “Sustainable Development” principles and also the “Public Trust Doctrine”.