New Delhi : The real estate builders will have to pay hefty fine under the “polluter pays” principle for any constructions undertaken without seeking prior environmental clearances as a penalty for damaging the environment.

The government told the Supreme Court that it was in the process of bringing a notification to punish the realtors who try to make it a fait accompli by first building and then seeking the clearances.

The penalty collected would be used to restore the damage caused by the projects undertaken without the clearances, said additional solicitor general Neeraj Kihan Kaul, appearing for the Environment and Forest ministry.

His submission before the Bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice Mrs R Banumathi came during a hearing on the petitions by seven Tamil Nadu builders challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order on July 7 last, imposing 5% of the project cost towards the environment compensation.

Modifying its earlier order staying the NGT order, the Court asked the builders to deposit 5% project cost and directed the 5-member committee set up by the NGT to inspect all seven projects located in Tamil Nadu and submit a comprehensive report on “illegal and unauthorised acts and activities” to the court as well as NGT.

The stay had prevented the committee to carry out the inspection ordered by the NGT.

The NGT had imposed the penalty while striking down two office memorandums of December 12, 2012 and June 27, 2013 giving ex-post facto environment clearance to the real estate projects as “ultra vires,” holding that they were violations of the notification of September 14, 2006 mandating prior environmental clearance before executing any projects.

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