Environmental Impact Assessments, Forests, Audits, Standing, Taxation, Prevention, Air pollution, Human Rights, Property, Permits
The petitioner challenged the manner in which notifications issued by the Government of India under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, in the matter of granting of environmental clearances were not followed in letter and spirit. Besides the petition was also directed against the environmental clearance given by the State Government to the Thermal Power Plant of the Gujarat Electricity Board, on the ground that no public hearing was held. The petitioner also prays for certain directions to the respondent authorities about the manner in which the public hearing should be conducted and public hearing should be made effective and meaningful so as to achieve the object of the EP Act, 1986. The Court having considered in detail the Environment Impact Assessment Notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, laid down the following guidelines to be followed in the Public hearing procedure of the Environment Impact Assessment: 1)The venue of the public hearing has to be as near as possible to the site of the proposed project and no further than the sub district (taluka) headquarters and the period of public notice regarding public hearing should be at least three months; 2) The state pollution control board should publish notice of the public hearing in at least two newspaper widely circulated in the region, one of which should be in the vernacular language; 3)The first public hearing should be held at least 30 days after the newspaper notice; 4)There should be a summary of the EIA Report in the local language and the EIA report be made available to the concerned citizen; 5) The quorum of the committee conducting the public hearing would be half its membership and the representatives of the Pollution Control Board, state department of environment and one of the three senior citizens nominated by the Collector, would have to be present for a valid public hearing (at least one of the three senior citizens nominated should have some credentials on the issues of environmental concerns); 6)The minutes of the public hearing have to be supplied to citizens on demand; 7)The gist of the environmental clearance has to be published in the newspaper in which notice of the public hearing is given. In this manner, if the persons who have participated at the public hearing or other persons who are aggrieved by action of any other authorities of the Central Government are desirous of filing an appeal before the National Environmental Appellate Authority Act, 1997, they would be in a position to file such appeal, as the authorities make them aware that a particular unit is granted the environmental clearance certificate.