PTI – The National Green Tribunal has directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to pay a compensation of INR 2 crore for failing to comply with environmental norms while constructing an eight-lane highway from Mukarba Chowk to Singhu border in Delhi.
The National Green Tribunal has directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHA ) to pay a compensation of INR 2 crore for failing to comply with environmental norms while constructing an eight-lane highway from Mukarba Chowk to Singhu border in Delhi. The tribunal was hearing a petition claiming the generation of dust because of the non-sprinkling of water at village Khampur and other stretches, and not following the principles of compensatory afforestation and non-compliance with the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy.
A bench of Chairperson Justice A K Goel noted that the tribunal in November last year had sought a factual report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the director of the national capital’s environment department.
The bench also comprising judicial members Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, along with expert member A Senthil Vel, said the joint committee had submitted its report, but despite being provided with an opportunity, NHAI failed to rebut its observations and recommendations.
“Air pollution control norms are an essential component of sustainable development and any activity resulting in the generation of dust has to be accompanied by dust control measures which have not been taken…,” the bench said.
“Remedial action may be taken expeditiously and for the past violation, we require NHAI to pay compensation of Rs 2 crore to be deposited with the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and head of forest force, Haryana, within one month,” the bench added.
It said the amount has to be utilised for restoration measures in the area by suitable plantation and NHAI has to prepare an action plan with the approval of the joint committee within one month, which has to be executed within three months.
The green tribunal said the panel’s report showed “massive violations” of the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways titled ‘Green Highways Policy, 2015’ for plantation, transportation, beautification and maintenance of highways.
“Apart from remedial measures, NHAI has to be held accountable for violations on the polluter pays principle, even if violations are by its officers or contractors,” the tribunal said.
It said the NHAI was bound to take remedial measures for dust mitigation during construction and operation phases, including covering the construction material while transporting and storing, sprinkling water at regular intervals, plantation, removing encroachments and air quality monitoring.