SC suspends eco clearance for international airport in Goa

  1. The Supreme Court has suspended the environmental clearance (EC) granted for an international airport at Mopa in Goa. It has directed Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) to look into its decision keeping in mind the impact of the project on ecology. In 2015, The EAC had recommended the grant of an EC for the project which was communicated by MoEFCC in 2016.
  2. The Court has observed that it is important to strengthen environmental rule of law and government institutions should strive to enforce this. Environmental rule of law integrates critical environmental needs with the essential elements of the rule of law. It prioritizes environmental sustainability by connecting it with fundamental rights and obligations
  3. The SC has found discrepancies in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. The major issues with the EIA report were: a) failure to notice the existence of Ecologically Sensitive Zones within a buffer distance of 1 km of the project site, b) overlook the existence of tree at the airport site and felling of over 50,000 trees.
  4. EIA is a process which studies all aspects of the environment and seeks to anticipate the impact (positive and/or negative) of a proposed project or development on the environment. EIA is mandatory under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.
  5. Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 categorised projects into two categories: Category A and Category B based on potential impacts over an area and on human health and natural and man-made resources.
  6. All Category A projects are required to carry out an EIA and get a nod from EAC before an EC may be granted by the Union environment ministry. The airport development project falls under Category A projects.
  7. Category B projects are evaluated and given a clearance by state level authorities, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).