Supreme Court paves way for Mopa airport, allows construction

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The Supreme Court on Thursday paved way for the construction of an international airport at Mopa, Goa. The order was passed by a division of bench comprising DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta. However, the project would be overseen by a specialized body to ensure compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by the top court.

“The earlier judgment of this Court highlighted numerous deficiencies by the project proponent leading to the grant of the EC. This Court highlighted numerous concerns including the preservation of forests, the existence of ESAs with their attendant features and the impact of the proposed project on natural water channels. The Court also noted the abject failure of the project proponent to provide complete information on the existence of reserved forests. In the proceedings that followed the judgment of this Court, the project proponent sought to remedy its failure by taking into account additional information on significant aspects of the environment.” The Supreme Court order reads.

“In the process leading to the grant of the EC as well as the lifting of its suspension by this Court, numerous mitigatory conditions have been imposed on the project proponent. We deem it appropriate to ensure the oversight of the project by a specialized body to ensure compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by this Court. We direct the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to be appointed to oversee compliance with the directions cumulatively issued by this Court. The project proponent shall bear the costs, expenses and fees of NEERI. The suspension on the EC shall accordingly stand lifted. The Miscellaneous Application is accordingly disposed of.”It further added.

The direction came on the plea moved by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change seeking a direction that the Minutes of the 40th Expert Appraisal Committee dated 23 April 2019 should be taken on the record so that the embargo imposed by the apex court on the Environmental Clearance for a greenfield airport at Mopa Goa can be lifted.

The top court had in March last year suspended the EC granted for the greenfield airport and had directed the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) to revisit the decision in light of its impact on the ecology there.

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