Rs 100 cr fine for violating environment clearance

The top court also held that built-up area of a project means all constructed area, which is not open to the sky and all covered area including basement and service areas. Reuters file photo

The Supreme Court on Friday slapped Rs 100 crore damage on a real estate developer for violating the environment clearance granted to it for a project in Pune.

The top court also held that the built-up area of a project means all constructed area, which is not open to the sky and all covered area including basement and service areas.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, “We are definitely of the view that the project proponent who has violated the law with impunity cannot be allowed to go scot-free."

“The project proponent (M/s Goel Ganga Developers India Pvt Ltd) should be and is directed to pay damages of Rs 100 crores or 10% of the project cost whichever is more,” the bench said, adding it should also pay an additional sum of Rs 5 crores as damages for contravening mandatory provisions of environmental laws.

The top court, however, upheld an order by the NGT of September 27, 2016, that demolition of the structure so far created would not be an answer to the problem. It permitted the developer to “only complete construction of 807 flats, 117 shops/offices and cultural centre including the clubhouse” as “persons belonging to the middle class have invested their life’s earnings in this project”.

It also said some officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation were “espousing the case of the project proponent at the cost of the environment”.

The court also said the Principal Secretary, Environment Department, Maharashtra has “not acted in a fair and transparent manner” by maintaining construction of 18 buildings, instead of 12, were permissible on the site when the matter was pending before the National Green Tribunal.

It directed Maharashtra's chief secretary to file a detailed report in respect of the conduct of the then principal secretary, Department of Environment, to the NGT within 3 months for pass appropriate directions.

“The EC dated 04.04.2008 was granted for the construction of built-up area 57,658.42 sq mts, whereas admittedly, as of now the constructed built-up area is 1,00,002.25 sq mts. Therefore, there is a clear-cut violation of the terms. Any construction raised after 19.06.2014 is without any EC especially since we have held that EC granted on 20.11.2017 is invalid,” the bench said.

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Rs 100 cr fine for violating environment clearance

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