Date of text
Sabin Center
Court name
Supreme Court
Climate Change

On March 29, 2019, the Supreme Court of India suspended the environmental clearance for an airport in the State of Goa and ordered the government to revisit the clearance. Petitioners, citizen Hanuman Laxman Aroskar and NGO Federation of Rainbow Warriors challenged the clearance in the Supreme Court. The Court suspended the airport's environmental clearance on the grounds that the government failed to take into account impacts on the environment that were crucial to the environmental assessment process. The Court reasoned that "[f]undamental to the outcome of this case is a quest for environmental governance within a rule of law paradigm." The Court then cited both the Paris Agreement and India's Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement as key aspects of India's environmental rule of law and as reasons that the government was required to adequately balance environmental concerns with airport development goals.

On January 16, 2020, after additional submissions by the airport project proponents, the Supreme Court lifted its suspension of the environmental clearance, allowing the airport project to go forward. The government took notice of the addition environmental impact information provided, including a commitment to make the airport a "zero carbon airport operation," and imposed addition environmental conditions on the project. The Court reasoned that the government had adequately addressed concerns outlined in its 2019 decision. The Court also appointed the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute to oversee compliance with the government's environmental conditions and ordered the project proponents to pay the costs of oversight.

Key environmental legal questions

Whether the Indian government's approval of a new airport adequately considered environmental impacts