The Delhi High Court has stayed a notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change which exempted real estate projects with built-up area of up to 50,000 square metre from getting mandatory environmental clearance from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority.
The court has also stayed another notification which gave local authorities such as district Panchayats the power to grant environmental clearance for construction projects which have a built-up area between 20,000-50,000 square metre. Industrial sheds, educational institutes and hospitals with built-up area of up to 1,50,000 square metre were also exempted from taking environmental clearance for their work under the new notification, which has been stayed by the court.
A division bench of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Prateek Jalan stayed the notification on the plea moved by two non-government organisations (NGO), Protection of Environment & Biodiversity and Social Action for Forest and Environment.
In their petition, the two NGOs alleged that the government's move to keep builders out of the rigour of the environmental clearance would lead to large-scale environmental degradation. The notification, the petitioners alleged, were released without conducting any study and did not state reasons for taking such a backward decision.
The said notification, the petitioners said, was in contravention of Environment Protection Act and was just an abridged version of a 2016 notification which had also been quashed by the National Green Tribunal.
The environment ministry had on November 14 and 15 issued two separate notifications in which it had either exempted these real estate projects or given local bodies such as municipalities and Panchayats the authority to grant environmental clearance.