EIA report on south Delhi govt colony revamp plagiarised, high court told
The Delhi high court on Thursday refused to give permission to resume construction at south Delhi’s Nauroji Nagar, one of the seven colonies being redeveloped for government flats, after it was informed that the environment impact assessment (EIA) report submitted by the Centre for green clearance was plagiarised and its contents were copy-pasted from another project report of Tamil Nadu.
“Why should we give you permission for only this project when the rest of the six are not getting (permission). Both the amicus curiae have given elaborate submissions raising serious concerns, stating that the project is integrated,” a bench of chief justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao said.
The court, however, allowed National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to secure the area to avoid any untoward incident.
It said it would be better to stop now, when the loss is Rs 150 crore, rather than later when the loss might increase.
“If we permit this project now and tomorrow if you come to know that the environmental clearance was wrongly granted, then the loss would be more. Why do you want to waste more money? It is better to take measures to stop the road from caving in,” the bench added.
The court’s observation came after NBCC sought directions to commence work on the housing project for government officials in Nauroji Nagar. The NBCC’s counsel showed pictures, highlighting the present condition of the area. He said if construction is not allowed, the entire area could cave in — comparing it with the road cave-in Ghaziabad’s Vasundhara recently.
He said ₹150 crore of public money had already been spent on the project and if the road caves in, the money would be wasted. He said no more trees would be cut in this area and so the stay should be vacated.
But the court was not convinced after one of the amicus curiae, Gautam Bhan, an urban development expert, submitted a report, pointing out glaring loopholes in the EIA taken for environmental clearance.
In his 57-page report, Bhan told the court that a joint EIA should have been given for obtaining the green nod as it was an integrated project. It said the names of lakes in Tamil Nadu were mentioned in the EIA report for Nauroji Nagar, leading to complete non-application of mind.
But NBCC’s counsel said it was a typographical error by a Tamil Nadu company, assigned the job for preparing the EIA.
Bhan asked how the Centre could allow felling of 11,000 trees in the world’s most polluted city, which faced scarcity of water.
The NBCC, which is executing the project along with the Central Public Works Department, was seeking an order from the bench to continue with its work at Nauroji Nagar, where it is constructing a commercial hub, including a World Trade Centre.
The court listed the matter for August 30, when central government officers would have to be present to explain if the entire project needs a re-look.