CHENNAI : The move by the State government to amend the Development Control Rules and create an Environment Cell in Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority suffered a blow after the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s principal bench in New Delhi quashed a Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notification of 2016, which ordered setting up the facility. The Union Environment Ministry notification had specified constitution of the cell by the local body and the State government recently held a crucial meeting to bring in changes in its development regulations.
However, the Green Tribunal comprising Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice Jawad Rahim (judicial member) and Bikram Singh Sajwan (Expert Member) in its order said the setting up environment cell in the local body will result in a conflict of interest.In its order passed in the first week of December, the Green Tribunal observed, “As per the notification of Union Ministry of Environment, Environmental Cell is to be constituted by the local authority or the State Government, whereas the implementation of the environmental law is vested with the Central Government.”
“A Cell, primary duty of which is to protect the environment, would have to work in subordination to a local authority whose primary object is to permit development. Thus, the possibility of conflicting interest arising in the functioning of the local authority and the Environmental Cell cannot be ruled out,” the bench said.
“Some portions of the impugned notification, particularly, relating to granting of exemption from the application of Water and Air Acts; rendering the provisions of the central law for taking action, penalising defaulters and offenders of the environmental law being rendered ineffective; ambiguity and deficiencies in constitution of the Environmental Cell are some of the patent features of the impugned notification which dilutes the environmental impacts on the one hand, while on the other, they are in derogation to India’s international commitments to the Rio Declaration, 1992 and Paris Agreement, 2015,” the tribunal said.
The Tamil Nadu government planned to amend the development regulation wherein a builder will no longer be required to obtain seperate environmental clearance as the compliance of environmental condition would be ensured by environment cell.