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Supreme Court issues notice on plea challenging NGT order against construction around Bengaluru lakes

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on an appeal filed by construction companies challenging the order of the National Green Tribunal, which had quashed the environmental clearance granted to them for construction of a project, due to the alleged damage caused to the ecology of two lakes in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

The appeal before the apex court has been filed by Wonder Projects Development Private Limited and Godrej Private Limited against the order passed by the Green Tribunal on July 30, 2021, which had also directed them to deposit Rs 31 crore within one month for demolition of the construction raised by them and restore the area to original position, rejuvenation and reforestation etc. of the Kaikondarahalli Lake, the Kasavanahalli Lake and the surrounding area.

The bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Justice Surya Kant has issued notice. The Court has directed the respondent no 2/H.P. Rajanna to file counter-affidavit. “In the meantime, status quo, as it exists today, shall be maintained by the parties,” said the Court in its order.

The NGT, in its order dated July 30, 2021 order, had passed a slew of directions. “Sustainable development is the key word for protection of environment, including the wetland. It means that simultaneous development has to be allowed, but not at the cost of one or another. In the name of development, environment cannot be allowed to die, may be a slow death,” noted the Tribunal.

The order was passed by the NGT Principal Bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel which has further noted, “Nature has provided a lot of water to the mankind but we are not realising how much important it is for us to preserve and protect water which is available in different forms.”

The NGT had stopped the construction activities and passed directions for its demolition and also directed the State Wetland Authority and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Greater Bengaluru municipal corporation, to take steps for restoration and rejuvenation of the area, as it was originally.

The Tribunal imposed cost of Rs 10 lakh on the BBMP for permitting the construction/alteration of Storm Water Drain passing through the project site illegally and directed that the said amount paid by it shall be deposited in Environmental Compensation Fund and utilised for restoration and rejuvenation of environment.

Further, it imposed a litigation cost of Rs 20 lakh on both construction companies and directed the same shall be deposited with CPCB, for the protection and preservation of environment.

The Tribunal passed its order on an appeal filed by H. P. Ranjana, complaining about violation of environmental laws and damage to the environment on account of a project launched by appellants Wonder Projects Development Private Limited and Godrej Private Limited. The petitoner had contended that the project in question was abutting Kaikondarahalli and Kasavanahalli lakes, violating the environmental laws including provisions relating to wetlands and Rajakaluves, which are passing through or are around the proposed project.

Read order below:

18927_2021_31_3_29444_Order_26-Aug-2021

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