The Tribunal’s directive came while hearing a plea alleging violation of environmental norms and energy information administration (EIA) for the construction of affordable housing projects under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (urban) in Bhopal.
The petitioner in his plea alleged that the construction of housing project in Kotra Sultanabad area has been carried out by BMC without the requisite environment clearance.
“We direct that the Bhopal Municipal Corporation may not proceed further with any constructions without requisite environmental clearance. For the constructions already raised without environmental clearance, remedial measures, including recovery of compensation, may have to be looked into,” said a directive issued on October 4 by special bench (Bhopal) of the Tribunal.
The housing project was approved in 2018 by the Town and Country Planning department of the Madhya Pradesh government and was registered with Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) along with different approvals but there was no environmental clearance required, the applicant has informed the NGT.
It said the land was allotted to the Bhopal civic body under PMAY project in 2019 and thereafter construction work started before requisite permissions. The applicant has alleged that open spaces and green belts as required under the housing project were not provided.
Following this move, the NGT in July 2020 had issued notice to BMC on this issue. Meanwhile, the Tribunal had set up a joint committee comprising BMC Commissioner, Divisional Forest Officer, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, to provide a factual report in the matter.
Subsequently, BMC in August 2020 had contended that the construction area was less than 20,000 square metre and therefore, the project did not attract the requirement of prior environmental clearance under the notification issued in September 2006.
However, in its fresh directive, the NGT said, “No construction could be started without environmental clearance, not even less than 20,000 square metre. Since the second phase is certainly part of the project, even for the first phase clearance is required as no construction can start without it.”
The NGT’s special bench headed by its Chairman Adarsh Kumar Goel said the objective of the project to provide affordable housing is undoubtedly appreciable, “even such projects need to be undertaken in accordance with the environmental norms, more so when the project proponent is at public authority which has to be the model of compliance of environmental norms.”