Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (February 15, 2023)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 15 February 2023
Down To Earth brings you top environmental cases heard in Supreme Court, high courts & National Green Tribunal

NGT asks for report on Sambhar festival 

The proposed Sambhar festival to be held from February 17-19, 2023 in Jaipur, Rajasthan came under the National Green Tribunal (NGT) scanner for its alleged adverse impact on the migratory birds and the natural habitats of Sambhar lake

The lake in Jaipur is a Ramsar site. Abid Ali Khan in his application to the NGT had highlighted that the Sambhar festival will involve activities like kite flying, paragliding and motorcycle expedition.

The tribunal directed the chief secretary of Rajasthan to find out whether the activities to be conducted during the festival will have any negative impact on the migratory birds and natural habitat of the lake, particularly on account of use of loudspeakers. 

The official was asked to coordinate with the Wetland Authority, the principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) of the state, district magistrate of Jaipur and integrated regional office of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) at Jaipur for the study.

“If it is found that the festival at the proposed location will adversely impact the birds or natural habitat of the lake, the festivities may be shifted to any other location where such problem may not arise,” the NGT order dated February 15, 2023 noted.

A decision on the matter has to be taken and placed on the official state website by 5 pm February 16, 2023, said the bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, Sudhir Agarwal and Arun Kumar Tyagi.

Open space area in developed plots of 10,000 sq meter or more manadatory: SC

The Supreme Court (SC) mandated builders to reserve 10 per cent area for open space and recreational purposes in plots of area 10,000 square metres or more developed by them.

Such open space area has to be transferred to the local authority free of cost through a registered gift deed, SC said, upholding Rule 19 of the Development Control Rules for the Chennai Metropolitan Area. 

The case dealt with ‘open space regulation area’ (OSR) in developed plots. The areas covered by the OSR cannot be diverted for any other purpose, justices KM Joseph and Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha said.

The apex court directed that no area meant for OSR shall be utilised as dumping yards or any other purpose than as OSR. The respondents / authorities are “dutybound to ensure that the area set apart as OSR is stringently utilised only for the purpose in the Rule / Regulation".

SC held that Rule 19 did not violate Article 14 for being unreasonable or violate the right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution. “Rule 19 of the DCR is statutory in nature,” the judgment said. Thus, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority would be empowered to maintain the open space area.

The Development Control Rule is an important part of the Master Plan and was framed under Section 17 of the Town and Country Planning Act. The petitioner was challenging the concept of reserving the 10 per cent area for open space and recreational purposes. 

Hotel construction without requisite environmental clearances 

NGT has sought response on the matter of a hotel construction affecting the flora and fauna of Raya village in Udaipur district and Ghati Ka Math village in Rajasmand district within six weeks. 

Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, central zone bench of Bhopal directed notices to be issued to the respondents. The matter has been listed for March 31, 2023.

Bhagwat Singh Dewda, in his application to NGT, said the construction of the hotel was being done without obtaining the requisite environmental clearance as per the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and consent to establish. 

Debris was dumped obstructing the natural flow of nallah in the area, the petitioner wrote. The height of the bundh (anicut) was increased without requisite permission and this can affect the supply and the recharge of Gandhara Sagar lake, he added. Concretisation and construction over the catchment area of the nallah has also been done, the applicant observed. 

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