In February, the NGT slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Tamil Nadu government for failing to control pollution and restore Chennai’s waterways.

Madras HC dismisses TN govt plea challenging Rs 100 cr penalty for not cleaning rivers
news Court Friday, July 12, 2019 - 15:13

The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, challenging the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed on the state by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for failing to clean the Buckingham Canal, Adyar and Cooum river. The bench stated that the government would only be able to approach the Supreme Court for appeal against any order by NGT.

In February, the NGT slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Tamil Nadu government for failing to control pollution and restore Chennai’s waterways. The NGT passed the order while disposing of several petitions on Wednesday. In the strongly worded order, the NGT not only criticised the state government for failing to take action against entities responsible for polluting the waterways, but also accused them of complacency and colluding with the polluters.

The NGT pointed out that the state authorities have had a history of non-compliance on the issue, even though the tribunal has been making several observations and giving directions to restore, conserve and remove encroachments from the waterways since 2014. Pointing out that while Rs 600 crore were made available for the restoration of the project, the NGT noted that it has made negligible progress since the time of its launch in 2015.

The government, however, later appealed to the High Court and on April 9, an interim stay was granted on the penalty to be paid. The state had challenged the NGT's order and argued that it was based on mistake of facts, contrary to principles of natural justice, arbitrary and unreasonable.

However, on Friday, after arguments were heard, a division bench of Justices R Subbaiah and Krishna Ramaswamy held that the petition was non-maintainable. They further pointed out that as per Section 22 of the NGT Act, an appeal against an order from the tribunal can only be made in the Supreme Court.

The state, therefore, will still be required to pay the penalty of Rs. 100 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board, following the judgement. Its petition was further dismissed.

 

 

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