Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding MoEF&CC notification on EC, 28/10/2020

  • 28/10/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Noble M Paikada Vs Union of India & Others dated 28/10/2020.

In the application, challenge is to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) Notification dated March 28, 2020 amending the Notification of September 14, 2006 on the subject of requirement of Environment Clearance before undertaking some projects impacting environment.

The new amendment exempted new lessees of mining leases (in respect of leases where EC had been earlier granted in favour of the previous leasee) from requirement of EC for two years from the date of original lease. Further exemption, inter-alia, is to extraction of earth for linear projects such as roads, pipelines, etc., dredging and desilting of dams, reservoirs, weirs, barrages, river and canals for the purpose of their maintenance, upkeep and disaster management.

The NGT said that there are two issues to be looked into.

First issue is exemption to a leasee where EC was earlier granted but a fresh lease was granted before expiry of validity of EC. There may be justification for the exemption as such but some mechanism is required for damage assessment and mitigation measures in respect of a particular lease at the time of transfer. Further, some time limit must be fixed for the new leasee applying for the EC and also for the SEIAA/EAC for taking decision on such application.

The second issue is exemption from requirement of EC for extraction or sourcing or borrowing of ordinary earth for the linear projects such as roads, pipelines, etc and for dredging and de-silting of dams, reservoirs, weirs, barrages, river and canals for the purpose of their maintenance, upkeep and disaster management. It is possible to take a view that the EC can be exempted for these situations on account of assessment already made or for extraction of earth for linear project but such blanket exemption must be balanced by sustainable development concept. The exemption should strike balance and instead of being blanket exemption, it needs to be hedged by appropriate safeguards such as the process of excavation and quantum. Safeguards are required to be incorporated in terms of disposal of dredged material.

These aspects are not shown to have been considered and the reply by the MoEF&CC does not provide any explanation on it, the NGT said. The NGT directed the MoEF&CC to revisit the impugned notification in the light of the above observations within three months.