NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the order of the National Green Tribunal that directed the Indian Railways and Metro Rail in various cities to seek environmental clearances (ECs) for their projects before commencing any work.
New metro projects or expansion of existing ones are currently being implemented in several cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
“The order of the National Green Tribunal is stayed,” said a Bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar.
The Bench was hearing pleas filed by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and the Metro Rail against the order passed by the green tribunal that they are required to seek ECs for all their projects.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the PSUs, said construction works like Metro Rail in cities and dedicated freight corridors would help in reducing pollution and asking them to seek ECs was ridiculous.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh also said the Metro Rail and dedicated freight corridors would reduce dependence on cars and trucks for travel and transportation of goods and stated that polluting industries should be asked to get ECs and not those which help in reducing pollution. Rohatgi referred to notifications which say that the Metro Rail does not need ECs from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its projects. Earlier too, the MoEF had told the tribunal that Railways and Metro Rail projects were not within the purview of the 2006 Environmental Impact Assessment Notification and so prior EC was not required.
The National Green Tribunal had on May 31 held that all Metro Rail projects needed environmental clearance after conducting proper Environment Impact Assessment.
The tribunal had passed the same order when the matter pertaining to construction of the Railways’ dedicated freight corridor came up before it.