PIL challenges EIA exemption to NH widening projects

PIL challenges EIA exemption to National Highway widening projects

Representative image. Credit: PTI/file photo.

A PIL has been filed in Karnataka High Court challenging the exemption of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all national highway widening projects up to 100 km.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka issued notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate (MoEF and CC) and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

The petition filed by United Conservation Movement and Charitable and Welfare Trust, Bengaluru, contended that as per the office memorandum issued by the MoEF and CC dated August 28, 2013, expansion of national highways up to 100 km, involving additional right of way or land acquisition up to 40 meters on existing alignments and 60 meters on re-alignments or bypasses are exempted from the purview of EIA.

The petition stated that the amendment issued by the central government was in violation of the provisions under the Environment (Protection) Act and Environment (Protection) Rules. The implication is that a National Highway, up to a length of 100 km, widening can be established irrespective of the ecological sensitivity of the area. Such an exemption is not only contrary to law, but has serious adverse impact on the environment in general and specifically on ecologically sensitive areas, the petition stated.