SC directs Centre to set up national green regulator

SC directs Centre to set up national green regulator

The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to appoint a national regulator for appraising industrial projects in green belt, enforcing environmental conditions and to impose penalties on polluters.

Turning down the plea of the Centre that there is no need to appoint such regulator, the apex court said that the present mechanism is "deficient" in many respects and directed the government to appoint a new body to ensure effective implementation of National Forest Policy.

"We, therefore, direct the Union of India to appoint a Regulator with offices in as many States as possible under sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as directed in the order in the case of Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited and file an affidavit along with the notification appointing the Regulator in compliance of this direction by March 31, 2014," a three-judge green bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik said.

The court passed the order on an application filed by the Centre urging it to modify its order of 2011 by which it was directed to appoint the regulator under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act. The Government had contended that the Centre alone is the regulator and it cannot be done by any other body.

"We also do not find any force in the submission of Parasaran that as under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 the Central Government alone is the Regulator, no one else can be appointed as a Regulator as directed in the case of Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited," the bench said.

"The Regulator so appointed can exercise only such powers and functions of the Central Government under the Environment (Protection) Act as are entrusted to it and obviously cannot exercise the powers of the Central Government under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, but while exercising such powers under the Environment Protection Act will ensure that the National Forest Policy, 1988 is duly implemented," it said.

The apex court said the government is not right in arguing that in 2011 in the Lafarge Umiam case, this Court has merely suggested that a National Regulator be appointed and it was not a direction. 

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