The National Green Tribunal will hear on October 5 a plea challenging its order in which it had quashed two office memoranda of the Environment and Forests Ministry and imposed a fine on Akshardham Temple for carrying out expansion without prior environmental clearance.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had on July 7 quashed two office memoranda of the Environment Ministry dealing with the issue of clearances for major and minor projects, saying they suffered from infirmity of “lack of inherent jurisdiction and authority”.
Later on July 10, it had also slapped a fine of five per cent of the total cost incurred in the expansion of temple complex, located on the river bank along National Highway 24.
The Akshardham Temple management, in its plea through advocate Neelam Rathore, has said when the construction of the temple was completed in 2005, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 was not in force and thus there was no requirement to obtain environmental clearance (EC).
“The expansion work was commenced only after due sanctions and approvals were obtained by the applicant from all the concerned authorities. If the (temple) authorities had known about prior requirement of EC, it would not have started construction without obtaining prior EC in compliance with the law,” the plea said.
On March 28, 2010, DDA granted sanction for an additional built-up area of 25,497 square metres for construction of additional structures within the premises of Akshardham Temple, the petition said.
The petition has also referred to a report of an expert committee, constituted by NGT, which has observed that “existing constructions (including Akshardham Temple) within the river zone that are allowed as an exception should be treated as special zone”.