A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar asked MoEF to file by February 7 additional documents and listed the matter for day-to-day hearing from February 15.NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal today allowed the plea of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) seeking time to file some documents in several pleas challenging the ministry's recent notification exempting real estate projects from obtaining prior environmental clearance.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar asked MoEF to file by February 7 additional documents and listed the matter for day-to-day hearing from February 15.
"MoEF wishes to file some documents relevant for comprehensively deciding the matter by the tribunal. We permit MoEF to file additional documents by Tuesday," it said.
During the hearing, the counsel for MoEF sought two weeks time file an affidavit and other documents to show the reason for amending the notification published on December 9, 2016, exempting building and construction projects of all sizes from the process of environment impact assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance before beginning construction.
The green panel had earlier refused to stay the December 9, 2016, notification by MoEF and issued a notice to the ministries of Environment and Forests and Urban Development while seeking their reply.
The tribunal was hearing several pleas including one filed by the Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity seeking to quash of the December 9 notification on the ground that it was in contravention to the provisions of EIA notification, 2006 and Environment Protection Act, 1986.
A similar plea filed by former scientist Mahendra Pandey, through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, is being heard together.
For smaller projects (less than 20,000 square metres), the amended notification even has a "self-declaration" clause, which will ensure issuance of permission from urban local bodies.
For larger projects of more than 20,000 square metres size, the EC and building permission will be given by urban local bodies simultaneously in an "integrated format".
The bench had earlier pulled up MoEF for "not applying its mind" while amending the notification and had restrained it from granting any fresh permission under the new regulations.
The petition had alleged that the notification tries to "circumvent" the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006 in the name of "ease of doing business" for building and construction of areas which are more than 20,000 sqm and less than 150,000 sqm wherein prior EC was required earlier.