Gurgaon builder told to pay Rs 100 crore for ‘violation of green norms’

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued directions to Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd to pay environment compensation of Rs 100 crore for alleged violation of norms at its Sushant Lok Phase I property in Gurgaon. Issued on June 7 to the company’s chairman, the direction asks for the amount to be paid in 15 days of its receipt.

In September 2018, an order issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) following a petition had said: “Allegations in this application, inter-alia, are that there is encroachment of parks in green areas in Block C of Sushant Lok, Phase I, Gurgaon. Illegal extraction and supply of groundwater which is contaminated is taking place. There is absence of water harvesting system. There’s absence of sewerage treatment plant. Sewerage of area connects (to) storm water drain.” It sought a report from a joint panel with representatives of CPCB, Town and Country Planning Depart-ment, Haryana, Delhi School of Planning and Architecture, Central Ground Water Authority, and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Haryana.

The report, from November 2018, said the project proponent is required to obtain environment clearance. It said “consent to establish and consent to operate have not been obtained. It is a violation of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 by project proponent”. On extraction of groundwater, the report noted: “Project proponent has applied for registration of 39 tube wells with CGWA but No Objection Certificate (NOC) from CGWA for extraction of ground water is not available”. Rainwater harvesting system was not provided, and sewage is “meeting storm water drain as it is not getting passed through the sewerage system to HUDA STP”, as per the report.

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In an NGT order from 2019, the builder was directed to stop all construction/expansion activity at Sushant Lok Phase I. The CPCB had also imposed compensation of Rs 16.729 crore for

discharge of untreated sewage water. The Haryana PCB was directed to revoke NOCs, consents and authorisation granted to the builder, and CGWA was directed to impose environment compensation for extraction of groundwater through 39 tube wells. The CGWA had assessed compensation of Rs 40,44,000 per annum.

Sources in the Haryana PCB said the property, spread over around 600 acres, is a residential complex. The consents, which were granted by the PCB, were later revoked, they said.

The firm took the matter to the Supreme Court challenging the NGT’s 2020 order. It said the order, which upholds CPCB’s imposition of a fine, was passed “without hearing the appellant”. The appeal also states that there has been no violation of any environmental laws. The SC had then ordered status quo with regard to possession of the property.

An NGT order in September 2021 stated: “Violations found in present case include absence of EC, Consent to Establish, Consent to Operate and consent for extraction of groundwater.  Compensa-tion assessed is only on account of untreated sewage water discharge and illegal extraction of groundwater. No compensation has been assessed for establishing project without prior EC.”

The NGT asked for the scale of compensation to be revised, referring to an SC judgment in the matter of Goel Ganga Developers India Pvt Ltd vs Union of India. The recent direction issued by CPCB also referred to the judgment which indicated that environmental compensation of Rs 100 crore or 10% of total project cost, which-ever is higher, may be imposed.

While hearing the matter in April, the NGT reserved its order and said that it would be uploaded on the website on or before May 27. It is yet to be uploaded.

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