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Tamil Nadu loses battle in green court

Feb. 24, 2012

By Pramila Krishnan
Deccan Chronicle

The green court for south India was opened in Chennai on Friday. On the first day, this National Green Tribunal (NGT), Chennai circuit court, heard six major cases and disposed two of them including the three-year-old Pallikaranai case.

Setting aside the environment clearance given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to the Chennai Corporation to set up an integrated waste management plant in Pallikaranai marshland, the court said, "The state of Tamil Nadu has no jurisdiction to grant environment clearance of this nature. Guindy national Park is located within 10 kms from the Pallikaranai project site."

The NGT, comprising justice C.V. Ramulu and expert member R. Nagaendran, said as per environment legislation, the Pallikaranai project should be started only after getting clearance from the Union environment ministry.

The TNPCB had granted clearance for the city Corporation in 2010 to set up the waste management plant at Pallikaranai. The Corporation plan was to dump garbage in the wetland and convert it into bricks and pellets.

Opposing the project, environmentalist V.Srinivasan of "Save Pallikaranai marshland forum" filed a petition with the national environmental appellate authority. This case has now been taken up by the newly formed NGT at Chennai.

Mr Srinivasan is elated by the NGT verdict. "I opposed the project as the dump yard was proposed to be set up in a place which is situated less than 10 kms from the Guindy national park.

The Corporation tried to argue that the distance was over 10 km but that has been proved wrong now. This project will severely affect the groundwater and air in the region", he told Deccan Chronicle after the NGT order. According to him, the waste management plant cannot end the problem of Chennai's mounting garbage. "Household segregation of waste and compost is the best model and is being followed across the world. Even in our country, Pune and Bengaluru Corporations have started this model," he said.

Slamming the TNPCB for accepting the study report on Pallikaranai project by Chennai Corporation, the court said, "A report prepared by an authority which has no jurisdiction cannot be taken for considering for the grant of environment clearance.

The ministry of environment and forest shall issue notices to all parties before granting environment clearance in favour of the project proponent."

Overjoyed by the judgment, K.Periaswamy of Sri Sai Nagar residents' association at Pallikaranai said, "The new green court has saved the precious marshland here.

We suffer terrible misery as the Corporation has been dumping truckloads of garbage here every day. The court order is good news for the people of Pallikaranai, Perungudi, Thuraipakkam and Velachery."

Green Court of South India got cracking almost immediately after it was inaugurated in Chennai Friday as it directed Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and Chennai Corporation to get an environmental clearance from the Centre for Pallikaranai Integrated Waste Management Project.

A recent environment ministry notification says any project within 10 km of a national park needs its clearance and the Pallikaranai marshland falls within 10 km of Guindy National Park.

Disposing of a three-year-old case, a bench comprising justice C.V. Ramulu and expert member R. Nagendran told TNPCB to conduct a fresh public hearing and an environmental impact assessment study.

It set aside the environmental clearance granted by TNPCB and said, "The state government has no jurisdiction [in this matter]."

Besides being south Chennaiís buffer against floods, Pallikaranai enriches the groundwater table in Perungudi, Velachery, Adyar and other thickly populated areas.

Chennai Corporation has been dumping over 2,000 tonnes of garbage every day in the marshland home to hundreds of migratory birds. Residents are afraid the waste management project would bring more garbage and the area would become unfit for living.

"We are happy the court has ruled in our favour. We want to save Pallikaranai. We hope the corporation develops a different model of garbage management," said K. Periaswamy.

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