The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped a penalty of Rs 10 crore on a private builder for constructing apartment building by violating environmental norms, including acquiring additional land and not obtaining Environmental Clearance (EC) certificate.
The order came on Tuesday based on a petition filed by V Sankarasubramanian against Town and City Developers, one of the companies of the KG Group, in 2015. The petition was filed against ‘Garden City’ township in Vedapatti, around 10 kilometres from the city centre in Coimbatore. Garden City is being constructed by KG Group under the aegis of ‘Town and City Developers’.
“Though it was intended at the initial stage to construct the apartment in a small area, the fifth respondent (Town and City Developers) had acquired additional lands, which aggregate to the total extent of 10.87 acres,” the petition stated.
The petition also stated that in 2013, the builders had sent an application to state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority for issuance of Environmental Clearance (EC) for the said project.
However, according to Sivasubramanian, the developers constructed the apartments without waiting for the issuance of EC by the authority concerned and accused the developers of ‘degrading and damaging the environment and ecology of the area’ since the apartments were constructed on agricultural lands.
As per law, a builder has to mandatorily obtain EC before starting the project. EC is also compulsory for projects exceeding an area of 20,000 square metres (around 4.94 acres).
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had submitted in the Tribunal that it has filed a criminal petition in the district court in Coimbatore since the developers had violated norms and raised the apartments. Recording the statements, the NGT on Tuesday ordered Town and City Developers to pay an interim penalty of Rs 10 crore within a month.
The NGT also directed a committee, with members from TNPCB, Central Pollution Control Board, Tamil Nadu Environment Impact Assessment Authority, IIT-M and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, to inspect the site of construction and submit a report to the Tribunal on the extent of damages to the environment and the amount of penalty to be collected from the developers within two months.
After the builder pays Rs 10 crore penalty, the final amount will be imposed after the committee submits the report on damages to the environment.