A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta asked the ministry how it intends to utilise nearly Rs 75,000 crore, which has been lying in various funds created after top court's orders for protection of the environment.
The bench asked the ministry to inform it whether the money was being utilised for environment protection and rehabilitation, as this "huge amount" is good enough to bring about a change.
"We direct the MoEF to give us the status of various funds that have been created all over the country and the amounts lying in each of these funds as on March 31, 2018," said the court.
The court also asked the government to inform it about any proposal that had been in place for utilisating these funds and for its monitoring.
The court noted that around 10 to 12 funds were created after the apex court orders on environmental matters.
The court's direction came after an advocate, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, told the bench that the total amount lying in these funds was stated to be in the range of Rs 70,000 to Rs 75,000 crore, approximately.
During the hearing, the bench asked the Centre what it proposes to do with the huge money, adding: "We are not talking about a small amount. We are talking about Rs 70,000 crore. If this amount is used for environment protection, it will bring a change."
The court took the issue on its own and asked the registry to register the matter in this regard under the "suo motu" category.
The issue arose while hearing a matter relating to various issues of environment including illegal mining in several states.
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