It’s a Mockery of Environmental Law- observed NGT, Centre to give reply within a week on why Kanhar Dam does not require fresh Environment Clearance
This is mockery of environmental law, observed Justice Swatanter Kumar hearing the matter relating to Kanhar dam of Sonbhadra today in Om Dutt Singh & Anr versus State of UP & Ors. The matter was listed for final hearing today at the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal, New Delhi. The applicants filed the case on 22nd December, 2014 against State of U.P. challenging the construction of Kanhar dam in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh since 5th December, 2014 without seeking a fresh Environment Clearance. The project was conceived in the year 1976 and construction work was in abeyance since more than 25 years. The said environment clearance is of the year 1980 which the applicants claimed cannot be justified in the present context and hence a fresh environmental appraisal is required.
On 24th December, 2014 the court ruled there should be no construction activities if they do not have environment and forest clearance under law. Another application was filed on 7th January, 2015 in which the applicants claimed that despite the stay order by NGT, construction activities are going on unabated, in which notices were issued to State of UP on 13th January, 2015 asking them to file reply within 10 days and the matter was listed to be heard on 29th January, 2015. The State of UP failed to file their reply within stipulated time; hence it was listed for final hearing on 4th February, 2015.
The State of UP filed in their reply that MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest) has been taking compliance reports of the progress since 2008 and hence the court asked MOEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change) to submit their stand on the issue within a week. The matter is now listed on 19th February, 2015 for final hearing.
Parul Gupta, the counsel appearing for the applicants argued that the environmental and social conditions of the area has drastically changed since 1976 as of now, and hence the old environmental clearance cannot be justified to address the environment impacts of the project which are very substantial in nature. Hence, a fresh appraisal must be followed specially because the work was completely stalled for nearly 30 years and major structures are yet to be constructed. This also becomes clear from the minutes of meeting of the Advisory committee of Central Water Commission which gave it final approval in October, 2014 with several changes in design.
The order can be accessed here