A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani issued a notice to the Environment Ministry and asked for its stand on the petition which has sought monitoring and compliance of the conditions imposed during grant of environmental clearances (ECs) or consent to operate and establish.
The petition by a lawyer, Anup Kumar, has claimed that non-compliance of the conditions would result in "grave damage to ecology, human health and also economic loss".
The plea, filed through advocates Samar Vijay Singh and Amit Ojha, has sought directions to the ministry to make it mandatory for the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and project proponents to upload action taken reports and half-yearly compliance reports on their respective websites.
It has also sought directions to the government to carry out physical inspection of the project site to verify compliance of the conditions imposed when clearances were granted.
The petitioner has claimed in his plea that "Expert Appraisal Committee of the ministry or SEIAA at the state-level are over-burdened with the task of studying Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports and granting EC and other consents".
"Most times than not, many non-compliances go unnoticed by authorities due to lack of manpower, expertise and infrastructure and sometimes due to paucity of time," the plea has said.
Referring to a 2016 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on environmental clearance and post clearance monitoring, the petition has said that it indicated the non-compliance of EC conditions by project proponents.
The petitioner has sought development of a mechanism to ensure the environmental clearance conditions are fulfilled in a safe and time-bound manner.
"...for effective compliance of the conditions, there has to be a mechanism for imposition of penalty.
"For regulation to prove effective, not only there must be a meaningful penalty for non-compliant behaviour, but also a reasonable chance for the regulator to detect non-compliance and, once detected, a reasonable likelihood that the regulator will enforce the penalty," the petition has contended.