The eastern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered constitution of a high-powered committee under the Environment Secretary for a “relook” at environmental clearances given to the Rs 72,000-crore Greater Nicobar project.
Activities of the project will remain on hold until the committee submits its report to NGT, which the Tribunal said should be done within two months. The Tribunal has, however, allowed for work which “may not be of irreversible nature” to continue.
While hearing the petition filed against clearances given to the project, the NGT noted in its April 3 order that it is “compliant and the EC does not call for interference’’.
The project will include, among others, an International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), a greenfield international airport, a township, and a 450 MVA gas- and solar-based power plant over 16,610 hectares in the Great Nicobar Islands,
The order said the proposed committee will be headed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) Secretary, and will include “Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar; Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Central Pollution Control Board, nominee of Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog, nominee of Secretary, Ministry of Shipping and Director, Wildlife Institute of India”.
It said the Environment Secretary “may appoint a nodal officer, not below the rank of Joint Secretary, for facilitating functioning of the Committee”.
The NGT has approved the forest clearance provided and also said that the project is required for “national security” and economic development of the region.Advertisement
The clearances for the project have been challenged on the grounds that they are not compliant with the 2006 notification; that the environment impact assessment (EIA) has not been properly prepared according to terms of reference; that ICRZ regulations have been violated and the impact on tribal populations have not been taken into account.
In proposing the project, the government has pushed for its strategic benefits, in particular India’s strong maritime presence in the Indian Ocean Region to counter pressure built by foreign powers, in particular ongoing tensions in the South China Sea.Most Read 1 Gadar 2 box office collection day 4: Sunny Deol film records biggest Monday collections of all time, nets a total of Rs 173 cr 2 Bigg Boss OTT 2 Finale Live Updates: Elvish Yadav wins Salman Khan’s show, Abhishek Malhan shares message from hospital 3 Happy Independence Day 2023: Wishes Images, Whatsapp Messages, Status, Quotes, and Photos 4 OMG 2 box office collection day 4: Pankaj Tripathi-Akshay Kumar film delivers better Monday than opening Friday, earns Rs 55.1 cr 5 Jailer box office collection Day 5: Rajinikanth film set to cross Rs 350-crore mark worldwide on Independence Day
The NGT order stated that “it is patent that the project has great significance not only for economic development of the island and surrounding areas of strategic location but also for defence and national security….”Advertisement
The NGT backed the forest clearance given by the Environment Ministry, saying that compensatory afforestation allows for afforestation outside the state. In the case of the Greater Nicobar project, the government has planned compensatory afforestation in the Aravalli hills.Also ReadNarendra Modi Independence Day Speech Live Updates: India now identified ...Govt SOP for Judges: Do not name officials for court panelsShivaji statue vandalised in Goa, police initiate inquiry‘Will return to Red Fort next year’: In Independence Day speech, PM Modi ...
“As regards forest clearance, it is seen that forest cover in the area is more than 75%,” the NGT noted. “While forest is of great significance in tackling air pollution and climate change, development cannot be totally ignored. There is hardly any development in the area. There is a need not only for economic development but also national security…. Thus, no case is made out to interfere with the FC [forest clearance], considering the countervailing public interest in allowing diversion of forest land for the project which is subject to all relevant conditions.”© The Indian Express (P) Ltd