The National Green Tribunal on November 27 slapped an interim penalty of Rs 10 crore on a Faridabad builder for violating environmental norms and causing pollution, observing that "environment is priceless". The green panel directed Haryana government and the state pollution control board to black list the project proponent - Smart Housing Pvt Ltd - from undertaking such projects in future till environmental norms are fully carried out.
The NGT also asked them to seal and take possession of public utility spaces in the 'Vesta Heights' project besides sealing and taking over of vacant flats.
The tribunal's order came on a plea filed by Mukund Dhote alleging that housing project 'Vesta Heights' Baselwa village in Sector-86 of Faridabad was in violation of conditions of Environmental Clearance and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that a revised compensation may be assessed and recovered on the pattern of its earlier orders by a joint committee of Union Environment Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board and state pollution control board.
"Pollution cannot be allowed to be profitable activity. The environment is priceless. Intentional violations have to be visited with more stringent damages than accidental or unintended," the bench said.
The NGT in its order said, "We determine interim compensation of Rs 10 crore to be deposited by the project proponent with the CPCB within one month subject to final assessment of such compensation by the committee after giving due opportunity to the project proponent.
The tribunal held that it is a clear that there is blatant violation of conditions of environmental clearance apart from disposal of sewage through tankers at unauthorised locations, illegal extraction of ground water and not operating DG sets as per norms.
"Action taken by the state pollution control board is not adequate. It is pointed out on behalf of the applicant that the State PCB could have sealed the available public utility spaces and taken other coercive measures against the project proponent. Compensation should be realistic to recover the cost of restoration of the environment," the bench said.
It said that in view of such defaults, having potential for damage to environment and public health, the Haryana government needs to focus on remedial steps against such violations by the housing project after evolving an appropriate monitoring mechanism.
"In this regard, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and state pollution control board may conduct a survey of such projects in the state and furnish a status report," it said.
In the plea, Dhote had alleged that the housing project 'Vesta Heights' Baselwa village in Sector-86, Faridabad was in violation of conditions of Environmental Clearance and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
According to the applicant, the project is a category-A project.
"Consent to Operate under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 expired in March 2018. STP was not adequate and overflow was being discharged into the Agra canal," the plea said.