MUMBAI: In a relief to environmental activists, the Bombay high court refused to interfere with an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Pune, which is hearing complaints against two city-based developers for flouting green norms in their suburban high-rise projects.
The HC granted no relief to the developers Keystone Realtors and Omkar Realtors and directed that the NGT proceed with hearing the pending matter. The HC said, “We are of the view that at this stage it is not necessary to interfere…” The NGT had rejected a preliminary plea by the developers on the jurisdiction of the tribunal in hearing the complaints on grounds of delay and locus. The builders moved the HC to challenge the rejection, as it meant the tribunal could now proceed with hearing the matter.
Activists Anil Tharthare and Santosh Daunkar had separately in 2014 approached the NGT to stop construction in two different projects by two different builders, Rustomjee and Omkar. They challenged the environmental clearance given to both projects-one in Bandra, the other in Malad. The Rustomjee project, coming up as a 21-storeyed tower in Bandra, was allegedly granted a green clearance, in violation of law, three years after construction had begun.
Advocate Aditya Pratap, who appeared for Daunkar, said that the developer for Omkar Alta Monde at Malad had not taken necessary nods from the wildlife board despite the project coming up next to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and yet had received the environment clearance in 2012.
The NGT last year held that any resident, even if he or she is not personally affected by the project, has a right to raise a challenge and be heard by the tribunal. The HC said it cannot be presumed that the final outcome would also be adverse to the builders, but if it is, then they can challenge it and even argue the point that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to have heard it to begin with. The HC thus kept the developers’ challenge open to be raised later, if necessary.
Credits ET Realty