The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold an NGT order asking the railways and metro rail to seek environmental clearances for their projects, a move that will speed up work on several such works across the country.
The order also clears the hurdles in the way of the 30km Noida-Greater Noida Metro link that will improve connectivity to residential and commercial projects coming up in the area.
The court was hearing pleas of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation against the national green tribunal order that required them to seek environmental clearance for all their projects.
The country’s top law officer attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said Metro networks and dedicated freight corridors help in reducing pollution and asking them to seek ECs was “ridiculous”.
He contested NGT’s contention that the polluters-pay principle should apply to such projects.
Disputes over environment clearances have delayed projects, pitting industry and even the government against green activists.
The law officer said polluting industries should be asked to get green clearances and not those which help in reducing pollution.
Contesting the NGT order, DMRC, which is building the Noida link, said only treated water was being used in construction. The project would bring down pollution and save `491 million in terms of fuel.
The NGT had on May 31 held that all metro rail projects needed environmental clearance after conducting proper environment impact assessment. The NGT didn’t stop the work on the link but asked DMRC to get the clearance as the line was being laid.
Rohatgi also brought to the court’s notice government notifications that say metro rail does not need clearances from the ministry of environment and forests.
Metro projects are being expanded and new ones coming up in several cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
(With agency inputs)