NGT takes serious note of environmental violation in UP’s multi-crore smart city project

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Observing the serious violations of environmental norms by a developer of a smart city project in Uttar Pradesh–Wave City at Ghaziabad and High-Tech City at NOIDA, the National Green Tribunal noted that its joint committee formed to study the issue has failed to follow the directions of the Supreme Court.

Earlier in a complaint, the NGT was apprised that there was the illegal cutting of trees, extraction of groundwater in an ‘over-exploited’ area to the detriment of the environment in the project covering 4494.31 acres and nearly 20280 total units have been constructed without Environmental Clearance (EC).Acting on the issue, the Green Court had directed a joint Committee comprising members of various pollution control bodies along with the District Magistrate to take remedial measures in the matter and file its compliance report.

Later in the submission of the Joint Commission, it was noted that the groundwater has been extracted during construction even for the period prior to the grant of NOC, though the area is ‘over-exploited’ in terms of groundwater, stated an order passed by a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on January 6.

Regarding the green felling, the Joint Committee was in a view that Forest Department, Ghaziabad should have been given facts with regard to the scenario of greenery before the start of the project and at present for ascertaining any cutting of trees within the project site. Forest Department, Ghaziabad may provide a detailed assessment report covering the total area of greenery before the start of the project and at present and damage in greenery, if any.

In these circumstances, the liability of the Project Proponent was required to be assessed in terms of orders of the apex court in Goel Ganga Developers India Pvt. Ltd. v UOI1 equal to 10 per cent of the project cost. Though the project cost is not mentioned, having regard to the fact that there are 12000 units for construction, project cost may extent to thousands of crores, the NGT bench stated.

The joint committee constituted by the Tribunal has failed to follow the directions of the apex court, it said.

Issuing notice to the Project’s developer- M/s Uppal Chaddha Hi-Tech Developers Pvt. Ltd, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar, UP, the NGT said it may be served by the State PCB.

“Accordingly, we direct the statutory regulators to take further remedial action in accordance with the law. Remedial action may include an appropriate amount of compensation and restoration plan, utiliing the amount of compensation recovered and stopping/removing illegal construction. This may be done by giving the opportunity of being heard to the affected party. We note that using gains of crime by violating environmental laws is an offence under section 3 of the PMLA Act, 2002 and, if necessary, the said provision be invoked,” the order read.

The matter has been listed for further consideration on April 11.

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