• Shantanu Dubey

Supreme Court asked EAC to reconsider Environmental Clearance of Greenfield International Airport at

In an appeal that was filed by Federation of Rainbow Warriors and Hanuman Laxman Aroskar, the Supreme Court has assailed National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order which has permitted Economic Clearance for the development of Greenfield international airport at Mopa in Goa.

Earlier, the NGT has granted the Environmental Clearance along with imposing some conditions to protect the environment. But the same was overturned in the case of Hanuman Laxman Aroskar V. Union of India which has the bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud. The appellant side, which was represented by Advocate Anitha Shenoy, argued that issuing the EC is not right since it has umpteen number of shortcomings, as well as procedural compliance, is also lacking. At the same time, the defendant side, which was represented by Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal, elaborated the dire need of a new airport since the existing one that is Dabolim has already attended its saturation point. Thus, it is unable to cater to the growing passenger traffic. The bench has also stated that the NGT has done a blunder by granting EC to the new airport without reviewing it sufficiently.

The court ruled out that although the urgency and need of public projects such as an international airport can be understood, it can’t be done on the cost of compromising environmental concerns and such decisions should be taken by considering the current state of the environment.

The court said: “Environmental governance that is founded on the rule of law emerges from the values of our Constitution. The health of the environment is key to preserving the right to life as a constitutionally recognized value under Article 21 of the Constitution. Proper structures for environmental decision making find expression in the guarantee against arbitrary action and the affirmative duty of fair treatment under Article 14 of the Constitution.”

A phrase was also coined by Justice Chandrachud in the judgement that is ‘Environmental Rule of law’. It was explained by the Justice in a sense that Environmental governance is something that is also found out on the demand of promoting environmental sustainability which acts as a pertinent factor and in turn guarantees our ecosystem’s health.

The bench has further ordered the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) to re-scrutinize the matter and its recommendation for granting clearance of the new airport. Further, it has said that if EAC after reconsidering its recommendation still believes that the EC should be granted then it also has to keep in mind to impose such necessary conditions which would be sufficient in combating the territorial ecosystem in their experts’ view.

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