While upholding the order of the National Green Tribunal, Hon’ble Supreme Court imposed an Environmental Compensation of Rs. 100 Crores or 10% of the project cost, whichever is low for violating Environment Clearance prescribed for the project undertaken by the giant Real Estate Developer M/s Goel Ganga Developers India Private Limited (hereinafter referred as ‘project proponent’).
Along with imposing such heavy damages on the Project Proponent, the bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Madan B. Lokur, also imposed an additional fine on the Project Proponent of Rupees 5 crores for violating mandatory Environmental Laws, and Rupees 5 Lakhs on the Pune Municipal Corporation and also directed Commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation to take actions against the erring officers.
According to the brief factual matrix, one Shri Tanaji Balasaheb Gambhire (hereinafter referred as ‘original applicant’) preferred an application before the National Green Tribunal against the project proponent, asserting that the construction undertaken by it is in violation of the Environment Clearances and Environmental Laws. The National Green Tribunal after numerous observations held that the project proponent is at fault to damage the environment, hence, ordered a damage worth Rupees 100 Crores or 5% of the project cost whichever is low along with the fine imposed upon PMC.
When the matter was brought before the Apex Court, both the parties argued upon the interpretation of the terms Floor Space Index (FSI) and Built-up Area (BUA). After listening to the arguments and various references made by the parties, Hon’ble Supreme Court, while upholding the decision of the National Green Tribunal, observed that for the purpose of granting Environment Clearance, Built Up Area means all those areas which are covered construction and the difference between FSI area and Non-FSI area does not have relevance while giving Environmental Clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.
The Apex Court has ordered the project proponent to deposit the said amount within 6 (six) months to the Registry of the Court, failing which all the assets of the project proponents as well as its directors will fall open for attachment and recovery of the said amount, and cancellation of license, registration permission given to the project proponents for developing any real estate in future.
The applicant also prayed for the demolition of the structures, which was denied by the Hon’ble court, considering the fact that it will cause loss to the innocent people observed as follows-
“Keeping in view the interest of these third parties who were not parties before the NGT, we are of the view that on the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, demolition is not the answer. . . . Normally, this Court is loathe to legalize illegal constructions but in the present case we have no option but to do so.”
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