BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday said that no material has been placed
before it to show that stretches of National Highway-4A have been artificially divided to reduce its length below 100 km, to take up expansion work, with a view to avoid obtaining prior environmental clearance
under the Environment (Protection) Act.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty passed the order while disposing of a PIL filed by environmentalist Suresh Heblikar and two others, in 2019. Noting that there is no need for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to take prior environmental clearance for widening of NH-4A from Belagavi to Goa, the court said the work can continue after the Centre extends the validity of its in-principle approval granted under the Forest Conservation Act or fresh approval.
Giving liberty to the petitioners to approach the Union Government with a representation seeking measures to avoid or minimise the adverse impact of the project on the environment, the HC asked the government to examine whether the project attracts certain restrictions imposed under the Environment Protection Act and take action under the Biological Diversity Act.