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Kerala HC nullifies Centre’s environment assessment exemption for education institutions

March 15, 2024

The Kerala High Court invalidated a 2014 EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) notification by the Union Environment Ministry, which had exempted educational institutions and industrial sheds with a built-up area exceeding 20,000 square meters from acquiring environmental clearance (EC).

The court’s decision, dated March 6, stemmed from a petition filed by an NGO. The NGO argued that the final notification deviated from the draft version, which originally included various establishments like residential and commercial buildings, hotels, hospitals, and IT units under its purview. However, the final notification excluded certain buildings such as industrial sheds, schools, colleges, and hostels for educational institutions.

According to the NGO, the 2014 notification only required these establishments to manage environmental aspects like waste, rainwater harvesting, and optional use of recycled materials, without the necessity of obtaining an environmental clearance certificate. This, the NGO contended, was in violation of the Environment (Protection) Act and the original 2006 EIA notification.

In defense, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change argued that the exemption was made after considering the nature of activities in these buildings, asserting that it posed no adverse environmental effects.

However, the court disagreed with the Ministry’s stance and allowed the petition. It nullified the December 22, 2014 notification, emphasizing that the Ministry could issue a fresh notification complying with the law.

Source: PTI

Also read: Bengal’s school environment degrades due to non-compliance, warns education board

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