NGT cancels EC for project on Technopark phase-III campus

May 31, 2023

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has cancelled the environmental clearance (EC) issued for the expansion of the mixed land use (master plan) project by Dragonstone Realty Private Limited on Technopark phase III campus (non-SEZ plot) and slapped a penalty of Rs 15 crore on the project proponent for having split the project as main and expansion projects.

The judgement was delivered by Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana, judicial member, NGT, Southern Zone, Chennai, in the appeal filed by environmentalist Thomas Lawrence against the issuance of the EC for the proposed expansion of mixed land use project.

The total project cost is Rs 800 crore and the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) had issued the EC in March 2021.

The mixed land use building construction project is on 3.937 hectares, with 2,71,164.4sq.m built up area. The approved built up area is 1,33,491sq.m with additional built up area of 1,37,673.4sq.m.

NGT has set aside the EC citing that grant of environmental clearance by ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC) for main phase – III and grant of environmental clearance by state environment impact assessment authority for expansion of phase III amounts to splitting of project and such an action was violation of the dictum of the SC verdict in another case dated 2020.

While imposing a penalty of Rs 15 crore on the project proponent, the NGT ordered that the penalty levied should be paid to the integrated regional office, MoEF&CC within three months, which will be utilized for improvements of the wetlands in the district.

It has also been ordered not to undertake any further work under the expansion project of phase-III without obtaining EC.

NGT has also recommended to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change to take appropriate action against the authorities who were responsible in granting the environmental clearance for the phase-III project.

The SEIAA, Kerala, which should have considered the project comprehensively and having treated the phase-III as an expansion without application of mind is also liable for its conduct, the verdict noted.

NGT also directed state environment impact assessment authority to examine the proposal afresh and ensure that the project proponent conducts a cumulative impact study for the entire phase-III with a built up area of 2,71,164.4sq.m – a cumulative impact assessment for the entire project and also identify the mitigation measures that may have to be in place in phase – III project area where construction is already completed to ensure that adverse environmental impacts, if any, due to construction of main project of phase – III are remediated.

The state government had earlier rejected the contention filed by Thomas Lawrence challenging the conversion of land for the development of phase – III Technopark campus and alleging destruction of wetland for the purpose.

  • Published On May 31, 2023 at 11:00 AM IST

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