The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) direction to the Jharkhand government to immediately stop all ongoing construction work undertaken without obtaining environmental clearance has brought building construction works in leading cities of the state to a grinding halt. Importantly, buildings the construction of which is halted also include some of the government buildings apart from commercial and housing societies.
NGT’s eastern region bench in Kolkata has delivered its judgment after, hearing a petition filed by environmentalist R K Singh last year who had cited lapses in the construction of 55 buildings belonging to commercial, government and housing societies underway in Ranchi, Bokaro, Deoghar and Jamshedpur.
Jharkhand High Court Building, Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha, P & M Hi-Tech City Centre Mall, Jamshedpur, Vijaya Garden Homes and Aastha Twin City – are some of the buildings which find specific mention in the petition. Apart from these buildings, it is stated that there are large number of other structures and, as per the information obtained from the State Government under the RTI application, only 20 buildings and construction projects have thus far applied for environmental clearance since the year 2006.
“Environmental Compensation ought to be recovered from those violating the EIA Notification and to direct institution of prosecution under section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 against those responsible for the violation. It is further submitted that in the meanwhile the ongoing constructions of structures being undertaken without EC be directed to be stopped until it is obtained by the project proponents,” said the two-judge bench comprising S P Wangdi and Dr Nagin Nanda.
Environmental Compensation shall be assessed in respect of all the structures which have been raised without EC and shall be recovered from the appropriate authorities/persons/builders/project proponent (as the case maybe) within a period of three months from hence. Environmental Compensation in respect of those which have already been assessed shall also be recovered within the said period.
The order also directed the state urban development department to ensure Environment Impact Assessment (EIS) is conducted on all the structures raised in the municipal areas in accordance with the procedure laid down in the EIA Notification, 2006.