The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the Metro projects are not required to seek environmental clearance from the central and state governments.
This assertion was made in response to a petition which has alleged the construction of the upcoming Noida-Greater Noida Metro line lacks environmental clearance.
The MoEF referred to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification that it issued under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, on June 14, 2006, listing 39 projects that need environmental clearance for new construction or expansion of existing ones.
“The railway projects and Metro Rail projects are not within the purview of the EIA notification, 2006. Hence, prior environmental clearance for the project in question is not required,” said the MoEF in its counter-affidavit filed before the principal bench of Justice U D Salvi.
The DMRC pointed out a cabinet note from the MoEFCC dated June 2, 2009, to the urban development ministry telling that Metro projects are not required to seek environmental clearance although certain measures need to be taken to avoid adverse impact on environment. The six measures include keeping the noise level controlled, following the concept of green building and collection of sewage.
The DMRC also “vehemently denied” the extraction of groundwater for the construction of the Noida-Greater Noida Metro line. The NGT had directed all the builders in Noida and Greater Noida not to extract any quantity of underground water for the purposes of construction or otherwise. A number of builders have also been served notices for violating the NGT order. However, as a reply to the claim, the DMRC said that as the executing agency of the project, only STP (sewage treatment plant) treated water is being used on a regular basis.
“It is respectfully submitted that the DMRC, which is the executing agency for the Metro project, and CEC-SAM INDIA, which is the joint venture that has been allotted the tender for construction of the line, are at present using STP treated water for the project which is supplied on a regular basis,” states DMRC in its reply.