The National Green Tribunal, Chennai on March 13 pronounced its judgement on the application filed by Citizen Action Forum (CAF) and Mr. V. Balasubramanian, Former Additional Chief Secretary of Karnataka (Application No.245/2016), challenging the legality of the proposed steel flyover project. The applicants had challenged the project for want of prior Environmental Clearance, classifying the project under Entry 8(b) of the EIA Notification, 2006. The steel flyover project was proposed by BDA and was sought to be implemented through L&T, the successful bidder in the bid to identify the executing agency.

 

Also read: Big win for citizens, High Court puts Bengaluru steel flyover project on hold

 

The NGT categorically upheld that the project qualifies as an Area Development activity. The State, BDA and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) had strongly opposed both the Application filed by CAF and the classification of the project as an Area Development activity. The BDA had argued that the project was a Road Expansion project and not an Area Development activity thus outside the purview of any prior Environmental Clearance.

 

The EIA Notification, 2006 prescribes projects falling within the definition of an Area Development activity would require Environmental Clearance before the commencement of the project. The NGT, in addition to declaring that the project qualifies as an area development activity, has directed the BDA NOT to proceed with the project without prior Environmental Clearance.

 

Also read: Post-steel flyover, MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar writes open letter on five things bothering Bengaluru

 

Member of Parliament Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who was actively involved in the movement against building the Steel Flyover has said:  “NGT today has finally spoken.  In its order, it has upheld the contention that SteelFlyover project was Illegal because it didn’t have required Environmental clearances. This is what I have been saying from the time, the Govt, the CM and his Bengaluru Development minister started trying to push this project down the throats of an unwilling citizenry and city.

 

" There are serious implications of the court’s order. It raises serious questions about the Govt and BDA’s conduct in pushing the project in violation of law and processes and why the CM, minister and government kept pushing this project despite widespread opposition from people. These serious questions require serious answers. Money was spent by BDA for this project. Money that belongs to the public. An impartial investigation into the roles of those in Government who were responsible and references to corruption diary is a must and I demand it on behalf of the people of Bengaluru. Again, it is the courts that have come to help the people and expose illegality. This is the power that we must exercise control on corrupt politicians. Even if CM tries to protect the guilty, I have no doubt in time, those behind this project will be brought to book. This order is a milestone in defining the way infrastructural projects will be taken up in future such that city governments will not be able to dupe taxpayers with fraudulent money making projects.

 

Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation has also commented on the NGT's decision. Sridhar applauding the verdict said, " Namma Bengaluru Foundation is glad to hear the NGT verdict making the environment clearance a must for the Steel Flyover project as it constitutes an Area Development project. As has been stated by Namma Bengaluru Foundation, this project was not just shrouded in secrecy but also has a galore of procedural violations. We are looking forward to our PIL in the Karnataka High Court now where we have questioned the procedural appropriateness of how this project was pushed through. We do hope government will hold the agencies responsible accountable for these actions.”