NEW DELHI: In a move to regularise projects that commenced without mandatory prior approval in sensitive coastal areas, the Union Environment Ministry has decided to start the process of appraisal of all such cases of violations under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.
The ministry chose to bank upon court judgements to allow projects in violations of green norms while compensating damage to the environment.
The ministry cited a Supreme Court order dated April 2020 in a case involving a violation by a company. The apex court has mentioned that closure of the industries are not warranted.
However, the order for payment of compensation as a facet of preserving the environment in accordance with the precautionary principle has been imposed and the proposal for environment clearance be examined on its merits, independent of any proposed action for alleged violation of environmental laws.
Citing the November 2014 order of the Jharkhand High Court, the ministry said that for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the coastal environment and abating coastal environment pollution, it is necessary that all entities not complying with CRZ notifications be brought under compliance of the environment statutes in an expedient manner.
The environment ministry said that it has received several requests from the coastal state governments for proposals, under CRZ Notification, 2011, for considering CRZ clearance in respect of permissible activities which have commenced work without a prior CRZ clearance due to inadequate knowledge of the regulatory regime and other factors.
The ministry has directed the Coastal Zone Management Authority to assess the environmental damages caused by such projects and give specific recommendations in respect of activities, corresponding to the environmental and ecological damage assessed, to be taken by the project proponent.
The ministry said that further action should be taken by the state governments or state pollution control boards under respective provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act.