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SC dismisses NRL plea on boundary wall, township

By AJIT PATOWARY
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GUWAHATI, Jan 24 - In a significant development, the Supreme Court of India has dismissed the petition filed by the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) challenging the August 24, 2016 order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Miscellaneous Application (MA) No. 787/2015, which directed the refinery to demolish a boundary wall �on an elephant corridor� and not to build a township on a plot of nine hectares of the Deopahar Proposed Reserved Forest (PRF) land.

The Court of Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah said in its order that it �sees no merit in the appeals� (Civil Appeal Diary No. � 41203 of 2018) made by the NRL and hence dismissed them accordingly.

The MA No. 787/2015 was filed before the NGT by environment-cum-RTI activist Rohit Choudhury in August, 2015, in Original Application (OA) No. 38/2011.

In 2011, the Assam government handed over the said plot of nine hectares of land to the NRL for extension of its township. In 2014, the refinery started construction of the residential quarters for its staff and CISF etc., on the said plot of land.

In 2011, Rohit Choudhury filed the Original Application (OA) No. 38/2011 before the NGT, New Delhi, praying inter alia, for appropriate directions to the authorities to safeguard KNP and its ecology as according to him, unregulated quarrying and mining activities permitted in and around the KNP area not only threatened the Eco-Sensitive Zone, but also the survival and existence of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife species.

The NRL, in its Civil Appeal petition before the Supreme Court, said that in the OA No. 38/2011 Rohit Choudhury had neither arrayed the NRL as a party nor had made any allegations against the NRL.

The NGT while disposing of the OA No. 38/2011, issued no order restraining the NRL. In August 2015, Rohit Choudhury filed MA No. 787/2015 in the disposed OA No. 38/2011. The NGT, on August 10, 2015, directed that no activity would be carried out by the refinery until further order. The MA No. 787/2015 was disposed of on August 24, 2016 after hearing the parties.

The NGT directed, inter alia, that the barbed wire fencing built by the refinery, which stands on the elephant corridor, should be demolished within a period of one month. The area, where the wall has come up and the proposed township is to come up is a part of the Deopahar PRF. The wall also falls within the �No Development Zone� notified by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), in 1996.

The NGT further said that the proposed NRL township should not come up at its present location. It further asked the NRL to pay an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the Assam Forest Department for causing environmental damage by destroying forest cover and flattening the hill to build the golf course.

The NRL was also asked by the NGT to undertake compensatory afforestation of ten times the number of trees it felled and the plant varieties, suitable to the area should be planted in the area in consultation with the biologists.

The NRL filed a review petition on September 23, 2016 before the NGT and the Assam government also filed a compliance affidavit stating that the refinery had surrendered one hectare of land falling in the Deopahar PRF, out of the nine hectares of additional land acquired in 2008. The remaining plot of eight hectares of land is totally out of the PRF.

But the NGT, while disposing of the review application on August 3, 2018, did not specifically mention that the refinery is entitled to extension of the housing colony on the remaining eight hectares of land, said the NRL in its appeal before the Apex Court.

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SC dismisses NRL plea on boundary wall, township

GUWAHATI, Jan 24 - In a significant development, the Supreme Court of India has dismissed the petition filed by the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) challenging the August 24, 2016 order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Miscellaneous Application (MA) No. 787/2015, which directed the refinery to demolish a boundary wall �on an elephant corridor� and not to build a township on a plot of nine hectares of the Deopahar Proposed Reserved Forest (PRF) land.

The Court of Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah said in its order that it �sees no merit in the appeals� (Civil Appeal Diary No. � 41203 of 2018) made by the NRL and hence dismissed them accordingly.

The MA No. 787/2015 was filed before the NGT by environment-cum-RTI activist Rohit Choudhury in August, 2015, in Original Application (OA) No. 38/2011.

In 2011, the Assam government handed over the said plot of nine hectares of land to the NRL for extension of its township. In 2014, the refinery started construction of the residential quarters for its staff and CISF etc., on the said plot of land.

In 2011, Rohit Choudhury filed the Original Application (OA) No. 38/2011 before the NGT, New Delhi, praying inter alia, for appropriate directions to the authorities to safeguard KNP and its ecology as according to him, unregulated quarrying and mining activities permitted in and around the KNP area not only threatened the Eco-Sensitive Zone, but also the survival and existence of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife species.

The NRL, in its Civil Appeal petition before the Supreme Court, said that in the OA No. 38/2011 Rohit Choudhury had neither arrayed the NRL as a party nor had made any allegations against the NRL.

The NGT while disposing of the OA No. 38/2011, issued no order restraining the NRL. In August 2015, Rohit Choudhury filed MA No. 787/2015 in the disposed OA No. 38/2011. The NGT, on August 10, 2015, directed that no activity would be carried out by the refinery until further order. The MA No. 787/2015 was disposed of on August 24, 2016 after hearing the parties.

The NGT directed, inter alia, that the barbed wire fencing built by the refinery, which stands on the elephant corridor, should be demolished within a period of one month. The area, where the wall has come up and the proposed township is to come up is a part of the Deopahar PRF. The wall also falls within the �No Development Zone� notified by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), in 1996.

The NGT further said that the proposed NRL township should not come up at its present location. It further asked the NRL to pay an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the Assam Forest Department for causing environmental damage by destroying forest cover and flattening the hill to build the golf course.

The NRL was also asked by the NGT to undertake compensatory afforestation of ten times the number of trees it felled and the plant varieties, suitable to the area should be planted in the area in consultation with the biologists.

The NRL filed a review petition on September 23, 2016 before the NGT and the Assam government also filed a compliance affidavit stating that the refinery had surrendered one hectare of land falling in the Deopahar PRF, out of the nine hectares of additional land acquired in 2008. The remaining plot of eight hectares of land is totally out of the PRF.

But the NGT, while disposing of the review application on August 3, 2018, did not specifically mention that the refinery is entitled to extension of the housing colony on the remaining eight hectares of land, said the NRL in its appeal before the Apex Court.

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