Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding violation of environmental norms by projects in the state of Haryana, 24/04/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Aashish Sardana Vs M/s Vatika Ltd. & Others dated 24/04/2023.
Grievance in the application is that though State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Haryana passed order, November 24, 2022 holding that the project set up by M/s Vatika Ltd, Gurugram in village Sikhopur, tehsil and district Gurugram was illegal and being without requisite environmental clearance (EC). Liability of the project proponent to pay compensation of Rs. 8.10 crores @ of 3% of the project value – Rs. 266 crores (1% penalty and 2% compensation) was fixed. Even then, no action has been taken for remedying the illegality or recovering compensation.
It is also mentioned by the applicant (Aashish Sardana) that State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Haryana is not enforcing several other orders passed by it against illegal projects. The applicant has furnished the details of other projects also.
The court noted that though SEIAA, Haryana had passed an order holding the project to be illegal, no remedial action has been taken to solve the issue. Though it has been found that green and open areas have been illegally occupied by raising constructions in excess of sanctioned plans, the said areas have not been restored nor excess generation of waste stopped. Compensation levied is not recovered nor there is provision for its utilisation to remedy the wrongs.
Thus, the NGT has sought response from the project proponent as well from the Chief Secretary, Haryana. The Chief Secretary has been asked to coordinate with other concerned departments and prepare a considered policy on the subject and file an affidavit before the tribunal within two months.
The NGT, April 24, 2023 directed that the monitoring mechanism of SEIAA/State PCB for compliance of EC conditions should be suitably reviewed and updated protocols be brought on record before the NGT. Further, in respect of all pending projects, necessary safeguards be followed at the earliest.
The updated policy should consider a mechanism by which electricity connection is not provided to areas beyond the sanction plan and beyond the areas specified in the EC. Further, guidelines and protocols should provide for recovery of levied compensation by coercive measures such as initiating prosecution, attachment of property, blacklisting, demolition etc. Utilization of the recovered amount for restoration of the damage to the environment must be equally prompt. "In view of rampant violations, intervention at policy level in the state cannot be wished away," said the NGT.