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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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).