HC stays Ministry of Environment’s order

It provided back door entry for violators of CRZ notification: PIL plea

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday granted a stay on the operation of an office memorandum issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change which provided for grant of post facto clearance to projects.

The court granted the stay while hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by R. Fatima of Thoothukudi, who said the memorandum issued on February 19 provided a procedure for consideration of applications received for projects established in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification for grant of post facto clearance.

The law mandated prior clearance for projects after exhaustive impact assessment studies and their appraisal by expert committees, the petitioner said.

But the office memorandum provided a back door entry for violators of the CRZ notification to regularise the violations. It ran against the CRZ notification and had no legal validity, she said.

She said by permitting grant of post facto clearance, the Ministry had defeated the very purpose of public hearing to elicit views of the people who had a stake in the environment and a right to participate in environmental decision making. The order was also against the principles of natural justice, she said.

A Division Bench of Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and S. Ananthi granted a stay on the operation of the order and sought a response from the Ministry.

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