The Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday that there is no need to obtain environmental clearances for Metro projects. The move came in response to a petition filed with the NGT saying that the authorities building the 30-km Noida to Greater Noida Metro link should have taken environmental clearances before starting work at the site.
The petitioner, Noida-based environmentalist Vikas Tongad, had said that without such clearances, the Metro project would affect the ecology of Noida and Greater Noida areas.
The NGT had sought replies from the environment ministry, DMRC and the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) on October 26, 2015, after Tongad had filed the petition. As the NMRC has signed an agreement with DMRC to construct the project, all these bodies were made respondents to the petition.
HT has copies of the affidavits filed by the Union environment ministry and the DMRC. While the former’s reply said that Railway and Metro projects do not require environmental clearance as per the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, the DMRC said that the Union ministry of urban development (MoUD) has exempted Metro projects from seeking environmental clearances.
On Wednesday, an NGT bench headed by Justice UD Salvi heard the case and asked petitioner Tongad to file his objections to these replies on the next hearing, which is on May 17, 2016.
The petitioner’s advocate, Rahul Chaudhary, said that if construction is done without proper assessment and necessary clearances required under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, it will have far-reaching impact on the environment. According to Tongad, as the construction done by the DMRC is on more than 1,50,000 sqm of land, it is covered under clause 8(b) of the schedule of EIA Notification, 2006.
“As far as we understand, the Environment (protection) Act, 1986, and the EIA notification, 2006, require all projects, including Metro and Railway projects, to get environmental clearances because they affect ecology of the area they are being executed in. The NGT will do justice to our case on the next hearing,” said Tongad.
“We will also ask the tribunal why is there is a difference in the replies of the DMRC and the Union environment ministry,” he added.
According to the detailed project report (DPR) of the 30-km project, 1,40,00,000 litres of water is required during the construction phase of the project. In addition, the project requires 53,622.67 sqm of land for metro stations, 16,000 sqm for sub stations, 700 sqm for a radio tower, 2,00,000 sqm for a depot and 14,439 sqm for running track.
On its part, the Noida metro corporation told the tribunal that the DMRC has filed replies on the issue as the NMRC has roped it in for the 30-km Metro project.
“The DMRC is replying to the allegations made in the petition,” said PD Upadhyaya, general manager, NMRC.