SC stays Mopa work; issues notice to Goa govt, MoEF
Seeks reply in three weeks Orders ‘status quo’ at site on Barazan plateau
19th January 2019, 02:06 Hrs
the goan I network
Putting a spoke in the work on the Mopa airport, the Supreme Court of India on Friday issued orders to “maintain status quo” at the site on the Barazan plateau.
The Apex Court also issued notices returnable in three weeks to the State government, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the concessionaires GMR.
A bench of the Apex court comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah, passed the orders while hearing two appeals filed by Hanuman Aroskar and the Federation of Rainbow Warriors challenging the environment clearances (ECs) granted by the environment ministry for commencement of work at the greenfield airport project site.
The petitioners had earlier challenged the ECs before the NGT, which had however dismissed their pleas and upheld the environment ministry’s decision.
On Friday when the matter was taken up by the bench of Justices Chandrachud and Shah, the counsel for both the petitioners Anita Shenoy argued that the project proponents had “concealed” crucial facts to obtain the ECs.
Shenoy claimed that the ECs were granted on the basis of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for an area of 10-kilometer radius around the airport site which claimed that only bushes and not trees will have to be cleared.
“However, when actually commencing the work, GMR sought permission to fell more than 55,000 trees from the plateau,” Shenoy told the bench.
The counsel also told the Supreme Court bench that the area of the EIA study extends deep into Maharashtra territory where several sections were within reserve forests and no site inspections in these parts were conducted.
The counsel for GMR Advocate Rao sought to impress upon the Bench that the project was of national importance and no curbs should be imposed by the Court during the pendency of the current petitions as it would delay work which could make the project overrun the 2020 completion deadline.
Rao also told the Court that the trees had already been felled and the the plea to stay the operation had become infructuous.
Justices Chandrachud and Shah nonetheless passed the orders directing that status-quo as on date should be maintained at the site, until further orders.
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