New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday December 14 issued notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on a PIL challenging its July 7 Memorandum allowing post-facto clearance which permits projects to carry out operations without environment safeguards or without getting environment clearances.
Issuing notice to the Centre, the bench presided over by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, however, refused to grant any interim stay on the operation of the memorandum.
The court will hear the matter further on March 29, 2022. In the plea, Nishtha Shukla, an environmentally conscious student, through advocates Chirag Jain and Shobhit Shukla stated that the impugned office memorandum provided another opportunity to the violators to procure an ex post facto clearance against the provisions of Environment Impact Assessment Notifications 1994 and 2006, also violating the express bar to do so by the Supreme Court.
The petition contended that the memorandum shall result in serious degradation of the environment and the violators getting an opportunity to regularise their operations.
The plea also stated that the memorandum is in gross violation of the law as set out in the EIA notification 1994, wherein a prior environmental clearance was made mandatory before initiation of any new project or modernisation of an existing project or expansion of an already existing project.
The Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 1994 and The Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006 provide for a mandatory environmental clearance to be taken prior to the initiation of any work on a project. These restrictions and prohibitions on new projects or activities, or on the expansion or modernisation of existing projects or activities based on their potential environmental impacts form the basis of the environmental jurisprudence of the country.
There is no provision in the law that allows violators to obtain an ex post facto clearance i.e., the opportunity to obtain environmental clearance for the projects which have already begun does not exist in the law. This understanding is for a good reason. It is this deterrence of closing down of operations and heavy cost to be paid for the destruction caused to the environment of a particular site, that is very crucial for the protection of the environment from violators, the plea read.