Kerala High Court Quashes EIA Notification Exempting Educational Institutions and Industrial Sheds from Environmental Clearance

Kerala High Court Quashes EIA Notification Exempting Educational Institutions and Industrial Sheds from Environmental Clearance

Kerala High Court quashes EIA notification exempting educational institutions and industrial sheds from environmental clearance. Find out why the court ruled against the 2014 notification and what it means for the environment.

PTIUpdated: Friday, March 15, 2024, 12:59 PM IST
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Kerala High Court | File

The Kerala High Court has quashed an EIA notification issued by the Union Environment Ministry in 2014 exempting educational institutions and industrial sheds with built-up area of more than 20,000 square meters from obtaining an environmental clearance (EC). The High Court quashed the 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification as it was different from its draft version under which educational institutions and industrial sheds with built-up area of more than 20,000 square meters had to obtain an environmental clearance.

The court’s March 6 order came on a plea moved by an NGO which had contended that in the draft notification, it was specifically mentioned that the project or activities covered under it will include residential buildings, commercial buildings, hotels, hospitals, hostels, office blocks, Information Technology or Software Development Units or Parks. However, in the final notification, certain buildings like industrial sheds, schools, colleges and hostels for educational institutions were excluded, it had said.

Under the final notification of 2014, such establishments only had to ensure environmental management, solid and liquid waste management, rainwater harvesting and optional usage of recycled materials, such as fly ash, bricks, for a period of two months, the NGO had said in its plea. As a result, under the guise of the notification, permits were being granted in absolute violation of the Environment (Protection) Act, and the original EIA notification issued in the year 2006, it had claimed.

Defending its decision, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had contended that earlier almost all the buildings having a specified built up area were required to obtain an environmental clearance certificate. Later, buildings like industrial sheds, schools, colleges and hostels for educational institutions were exempted in the final notification, it had said It had argued that the change was brought about considering the nature of activity carried out in these buildings and therefore, there was no adverse effect on the public at large as far as the environment was concerned.

Disagreeing with the Centre’s stand, the court said it was of the considered opinion that the writ petition requires consideration. “Accordingly, the same is allowed. The notification dated December 22, 2014 is hereby quashed and set aside. Needless to say, the respondent authority may issue fresh notification, in accordance with law,” it said.

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