The National Green Tribunal has questioned the India Trade Promotion Organisation over the grant of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for redevelopment of the Pragati Maidan complex as a world-class convention centre and asked it to show in 3 weeks whether the EIA report was based on a detailed study. A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said it seemed that apparently no impact assessment study was undertaken on the impact of creation of tunnels and underground parking on the groundwater in the area.
The tribunal also asked the project proponent to file replies on the requirement of Cumulative Assessment Study, Ecological Impact Study, incremental load relating to air pollution standards and the “grossly deficient” Traffic Impact Assessment Study. Senior advocate Sanjay Jain, appearing for the ITPO, submitted before the bench a detailed plan of the project to show that it has been conceived taking into consideration all relevant factors, including traffic management and parking. He said the project plan envisaged re-routing of traffic for decongestion of the area, supplemented by construction of several underground tunnels and multi-storied basement parking. The redevelopment plan is to develop a total of 3,26,065 sqm of built-up area, including 1,19,445 sqm of exhibition space, a convention centre with seating capacity of 7,000 people with a number of different-sized meeting rooms, space for public circulation in phase-I.
Upon consideration of the submissions, we had expressed to Mr. Jain our concern on the creation of the tunnels and creation of underground parking which is stated to be of the capacity of accommodating for more than 4000 vehicles which would have deleterious effect on the groundwater in the seriously groundwater starved city of Delhi. Apparently, no impact assessment study had been undertaken on this aspect.
Mr. Jain fairly conceded that he would not be able to answer the questions off hand and require to seek instructions. However, it was submitted that the EIA report considered by the Environment Assessment Committee was based upon a detailed study a copy of which has not been placed on record and prayed for a period of three weeks. In view of this and in the interest of justice, we allow the ITPO the time sought for. The documents be filed within three weeks,” the bench said.
The green panel also directed the ITPO to clarify its stand on the submission of Delhi Pollution Control Committee that the consent to establish for the project was still under consideration of the Committee. The matter was listed for next hearing on October 3. The NGT was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Verhaen Khanna and others seeking inquiry against officers of the ministry and others who had failed in discharging their statutory duties by granting the EC. The plea filed in the tribunal has sought quashing of the environmental clearance (EC) granted to the ITPO for re-development of Pragati Maidan complex into a world-class convention centre. “The EC was obtained by concealing material information and the appraisal of the project has been conducted in complete violation of the provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006,” the plea, filed through advocate Meera Gopal, had alleged.