New Delhi:

Noting continuous violation of environment norms in construction projects, the NGT has directed the government to consider circulating standard operating procedure (SOP) to all State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) for such activities.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order while hearing a case against order of Maharashtra SEIAA granting environmental clearance (EC) to the Ganga Altus construction project in Pune.

The plea filed by Tanaji B Gambhire alleged that Goel Ganga India Pvt Ltd was carrying out construction project illegally without the mandatory prior EC.

"Since we are coming across the grievance of continuous violation of environment norms in construction projects being completed without prior EC and the SEIAA, Maharashtra is neither requiring demolition nor payment of assessed compensation to comply with the rule of law and protection of environment, it will be appropriate to require the SEIAA, Maharashtra to review its working in the light of the judgments of the Supreme Court.

"A proper SOP be laid down for grant of EC in such cases so as to address the gaps in binding law and practice being currently followed. The MoEF may also consider circulating such SOP to all SEIAAs in the country," the National Green Tribunal said.

The tribunal also formed a committee comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and Maharashtra State PCB to look into the present matter and suggest a remedial action plan for the present case, including the quantum of compensation to be recovered, as far as possible within three months.

"The CPCB and State PCB will be nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The Committee may conduct proceedings online but if possible, visit the site. The committee may also interact with the concerned parties. The report of the committee may be filed by e-mail," the bench said.

The plea alleged that originally EC was granted in 2008 for office building and hotel for 40 rooms having total plot area of 20,072 sq mt but the project proponent changed the scope of the project in violation of the EC and raised construction.