Industries cannot operate without prior environment clearance (EC), the National Green Tribunal has said while holding that the State has no power to exempt the requirement. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the State cannot allow the units to function without EC on payment of compensation.
“We thus hold that without prior EC the units cannot be allowed to operate. The State has no power to exempt the requirement of prior EC or to allow the units to function without EC on payment of compensation. “We are of the view that since prior EC is statutory mandate, the same must be complied,” the bench said.
The green panel said prior EC is required under Environmental Impact Assessment Notification dated September 14, 2006 and there is no justification to permit function of such units in violation of mandate of law.
The tribunal’s observation came on a plea filed by NGO Dastak seeking quashing of the order of the Haryana government allowing manufacturers of formaldehyde, requiring prior EC, to operate for six months without the clearance, subject to making application for it within 60 days.
The NGO submitted that requirement of prior EC is mandatory and there is no jurisdiction with the State to exempt the same. The NGT in its order said, “We have no doubt that the stand of the private respondents will be duly considered by the concerned regulatory authorities, including the MoEF on merits and in accordance with law but till compliance of statutory mandate, the units cannot be allowed to function.”
The tribunal said that for past violations, the concerned authorities are free to take appropriate action in accordance with polluter pays principle, following due process.