A Division Bench of Madras High Court declined to order a stay over a writ petition filed against the order of the National Green Tribunal, South Zone while disposing the matter of converting the New Secretariat Building into a Multi Speciality Hospital, here on Tuesday.
The NGT Southern Bench had last year given approval to the State government to launch the new multi-super speciality hospital at the government estate.
The Fourth Bench comprising Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice P Devadas before whom the matter came up for hearing refused to stay the disposal order, but issued notices to the State PWD authorities, Health and Family Welfare Department, Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee(SEAC) returnable by March 6.
Petitioner R Veeramani’s counsel P Wilson had requested to constitute an expert committee to find out the suitability of the subject building in terms of the physical and legal requirement for the establishment of a multi-super specialty Hospital. This was rejected by the Division Bench. Wilson also insisted that the State should be restrained from carrying on any structural modifications, alterations or any medical activity in the complex under question until the disposal of the writ, which too was rejected by the Bench.
The primary question of the matter disposed by NGT was that the State level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority has erroneously exercised its jurisdiction in entertaining the application for amendment changing the project of secretariat to Multi Speciality Hospital. The petitioner contended that the NGT in its disposal of the matter failed to decide that primary question. Environmental Clearance (EC) accorded to one project cannot be changed. This was not taken into account by the NGT while coming to a conclusion that SEIAA can entertain an application for amendment of conditions already granted in the Environmental Clearance.
The petitioner further contended that even assuming that it is an amendment, such an amendment could only be for the existing project for which EC was granted and cannot grant fresh EC for a different project.