Move NGT first, SC on plea challenging nod to Delhi-Dehradun e-way section


The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea against the forest and wildlife clearances given to the Ganeshpur-Dehradun Road (NH-72A), a part of the Delhi-Dehradun expressway.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli noted the stage one forest clearance was given by the Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Ministry, therefore the petitioner, NGO Citizens for Green Doon, should move the National Green Tribunal first.

Advocate Ritwik Dutta, representing the NGO, contended that stretch will pass through eco-sensitive zones of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and the Shivalik Tiger Reserve, where leopards and over 1,500 different kinds of animals were spotted.

In September last year, the stage one forest clearance for the stretch of the road was given, and in January this year, the wildlife clearance was also given. Dutta submitted his main challenge was against the wildlife clearance by the National Board for Wildlife to the project.

Pointing out that the petition’s primary prayer was against the forest clearance and the secondary prayer was connected with the wildlife clearance, the bench told counsel that if he were to succeed on forest clearance before the NGT, then secondary prayer will be inconsequential.

It emphasized that the NGT is a statutory body, and the petitioner should move it, instead of filing a plea in the top court.

Dutta contended the petitioner cannot challenge the wildlife clearance before the NGT and it can be challenged only before the apex court and urged the bench to grant stay on tree felling till the proceedings in the matter are not completed.

The bench replied that the NHAI hasn’t started construction of the road, even after the two clearances and reiterated that Dutta should move the NGT first. “You can also come here against the interim order of the tribunal,” it told him.