The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an interim fine of Rs one crore on a private developer here for violation of environment norms in the construction of a residential project in Bandra area.
In an order passed on February 11, the principal bench of NGT at New Delhi held that Rustomjee Developers violated four major environment norms at its residential project Rustomjee Oriana, located at MIG Colony in Bandra-East.
It imposed Rs 1 crore fine on the developer as an "interim cost for the damaging environment".
The tribunal held that the builder had commenced the construction work without environmental clearance.
It noted that the developer had added 16 additional flats and two floors to the building, for which the amended environment clearance was given in complete violation of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006.
The EIA notification mandates that if an application is made for expansion of a project, then the proposal must first go to the state environment impact assessment committee (SEAC), which will critically assess the project.
Only after the SEAC makes a recommendation, a project can be given environmental clearance.
The NGT bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel, K Ramakrishnan and Dr Nagin Nanda were hearing an appeal filed in 2014 by Anil Tharthare, a resident of the MIG Colony.
Tharthare, who was represented by advocate Aditya Pratap, highlighted rampant environmental violations in the project.
Pratap argued that Rustomjee Developers had applied for environment clearance without disclosing the fact that more than half the project had already been constructed.
He also argued that a full-scale environment impact assessment report had also not been prepared for the project.
The bench took note of the submissions and held that no project could be set up or expanded without the prior requisite environment clearances.
"It (Mumbai) is a highly congested city and any further construction must be strictly legal. Any illegal construction must be visited with permissible adverse legal action...," the NGT observed.
"Severely straining and degrading the available natural resources of a particular area without regard to capacity assessment is causing irreversible damage to the ecology in terms of pollution of air, water and earth," it further said.
The tribunal asked a five-member committee, comprising two representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), one representative of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and two members of SEAC, to further assess the project's impact on the environment and submit its report by April 30.
The developer needs to deposit the fine amount with CPCB.