SC rejects Centre's plea on environmental regulator

The Supreme Court has rejected the Centre’s plea for six months’ time to set up a national regulator to grant environmental clearances for projects across the country.

Describing the plea as “wholly unacceptable”, a three-judge green bench presided over by Justice J S Khehar gave four weeks’ time to senior advocate J S Attri, appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forest, and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to explain the “factual and legal position” to the authorities concerned and ascertain the government’s response on the subject.

The court on January 6 and April 24 reminded the government to set up the regulator.

Earlier, the apex court had set April 30 as the deadline for the government to comply with its 2011 Lafarge judgment in this regard.

However, the National Democratic Alliance government had in July filed an application in the Supreme Court stating that the new dispensation wanted time to examine the feasibility of the statutory regulator.

It said that the matter regarding setting up of a regulator/authority under Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, had been discussed in the Cabinet on July 9, wherein it was decided to seek six months’ time from the apex court.

Rejecting the plea, the bench said: “Since the issue will require effective consideration at the highest level, we consider it just and appropriate to allow four weeks’ time to the applicant to make a final submission to this court.

Needless to mention that we would expect the Central Government to comply with the original directions issued by this court as expeditiously as possible.”

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