The Supreme Court on Friday permitted the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to continue with its work on the Noida-Greater Noida link, putting on hold the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that held the project needed environmental clearance.
A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur agreed with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and additional solicitor general Maninder Singh’s contention that under a 2009 government order Metro projects were not required to take environmental clearances. “It’s ridiculous for a metro project to get this approval because it helps in curbing pollution,” Rohatgi said, contesting the green court’s proposition that the polluters pay principle should be application to metro and rail projects.
The bench – which wondered how Metro can cause pollution -- also issued notice to Vikrant Tongad on whose petition the green court had issued the direction on May 31.
Contesting the NGT order, the DMRC said no ground water was being used in the project involving 1.5 lakh square meter of area and only sewage treatment plant treated water was being supplied for the construction of the metro line. The project would entail a saving of over Rs 491 million in terms of fuel and also reduce various air pollution levels.
Rohatgi and Singh said rail projects cannot be construed as “Township” and “Area Development Projects” that mandatorily require an approval from the environment ministry.
The NGT had also asked the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) to get an environment clearance for its dedicated corridor from Jawaharlal Nehru Trust port in Maharashtra to Kolkata port, which the SC stayed. In its appeal DFCCIL stated the project was inter-state and fall in the exempted category.
Currently, 50% of the work on the Noida-Greater Noida Metro link is complete while the Indian Railways is shifting Hindon river’s alignment to build a bridge for a 140-km train track of the corridor between Greater Noida and Rewari in Haryana. NGT did not stall the work but had said the departments can avail the clearance while continuing with construction.
The tribunal had refused to review its order despite Tongad’s claim that getting the approval after construction of both the projects is completed would be of no use as the damage would already have been done.