Can't sleep over environment clearance like Kumbhakarna: SC

Can't sleep over environment clearance like Kumbhakarna: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said there should be no "flip-flop" on environment clearance for projects in ecologically sensitive zones and the authorities should not sleep like "Kumbhakarna" and allow unauthorised activity.

"In view of the professed policy to have more single window clearances, the methodology of processing such applications should be simplified so that there is less uncertainty and better enforcement," a bench of Justices R F Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.

The court emphasised on greater clarity on the processes and a better understanding between various authorities so that developers are not left in the lurch. From the inception, there has to be clarity on what is permissible and what is not.

"The authorities cannot continue to do a flip-flop, putting large investments into jeopardy," the bench said.

The court passed its direction while sustaining Rs one crore fine on DLF Universal Ltd, which purchased nearly 5.12 acres of property from different vendors in the year 2006 and envisaged a multi-storey residential complex of about 185 units located on the eastern bank of Chilavannurkayal (backwaters) in Kerala. The court rejected a plea to bring down the structure.

The developer claimed all requisite permissions had been obtained, while the Kerala State Coastal Management Authority debunked it.  

"The Kerala State Coastal Management Authority... has been a saga of a sleeping authority – not having an afternoon siesta but a Kumbhakarna sleep albeit for almost four years. On being woken up, it  suddenly seeks to see various violations, wanting to put the clock back. In this period things have been done and dusted and a huge project has taken shape, which is at the final stage," the bench said.

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