NGT slaps Rs 45 crore penalty on NHAI for violating rules

A section of the Delhi-Mumbai expressway was built on the pond and by cutting trees, the order says
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.(Photo | Twitter/@NHAI_Official)

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to pay a fine of Rs 45 crore for violating the environmental laws by constructing a section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway (NH-148NA) partly on a village pond in Nuh and cutting hundreds of trees in Gurugram.

“Execution of the work of the construction of highways, though in the public interest and public welfare but construction activities of highways in violation of environmental laws cannot be said to be in the public interest and public welfare,” Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava-led bench observed.

The green court said, “if we take project cost as Rs 908 Crores, 5% thereof, comes to Rs 45.4 Crores and by rounding off, we make it Rs 45 Crores,” while asking the highway body to pay the compensation within three months.

It said the highway body must follow environmental laws “strictly in words and spirit.” The tribunal noted that hundreds of trees in this case have been cut, part of pond land has been damaged, storm water drains have been damaged and similar other environmental violations have been committed by NHAI without following the statutory requirements which prohibit such activities without proper examination by the concerned authorities.

“The mere violations are sufficient to take penal action against the violator, besides remedial action, but when the violations are on the part of State or statutory body, in our view, situation demand severest action, as much as possible and permissible and no compassion is deserved in such matters,” the bench also comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member Dr A Senthil Vel said.

The tribunal directed the Highway body to use the fine for the restoration of the environment. The NHAI is expected to be extremely watchful and careful in such cases, it added.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express