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Can National Green Tribunal look into Lavasa?

The Bombay High Court has said it will decide whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act of 2010 can be used to adjudicate alleged irregularities by the Lavasa township.

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The Bombay High Court has said it will decide whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act of 2010 can be used to adjudicate alleged irregularities by the Lavasa township.

A bench will now decide whether the NGT is competent enough to judge Lavasa-related issues, in light of the objections raised by petitioners.

A criminal case had been filed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) against Lavasa Corporation and others, alleging environment violation.

The tribubal was set up to handle environment protection issues.
During the last hearing in November, the HC had asked M/s Lavasa Corporation Limited and the ministry of environment and forests to consider approaching the NGT, since the NGT Act permits the tribunal to expedite disposal of matters related to environmental protection.

Ashish Mehta, the advocate for one of the petitioners, had argued that the tribunal was not competent to decide on the issues raised by them in the public interest litigation.

Mehta also filed an additional affidavit on behalf of Suniti SR, one of the petitioners, which contended that even the environment and forests ministry does not have the authority to grant clearance to Lavasa.

“On the contrary, the state environmental impact assessment authority (SEIAA) of Maharashtra is the competent authority to deal with it,” states the affidavit.

Stating that a bad precedent was being set by Lavasa, the affidavit says there was no provision for a ‘post-facto’ clearance in the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.

“The EIA Notification, 2006, and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, do not provide for any such ‘post-facto’ clearance, and what is warranted is the ‘prior’ environmental clearance which the project proponent has failed to seek,” adds the affidavit.

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