The National Green Tribunal has clarified that the manufacture or production of inorganic fertilisers required environmental clearance and added that such chemicals were covered under the Environmental Impact Assessment notification of 2006.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification imposes certain restrictions and prohibitions on new projects or activities or the expansion or modernisation of existing projects, unless prior environmental clearance has been obtained.
The tribunal observed that merely because an erroneous stand regarding inorganic chemicals was taken by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in an earlier case, it could not be grounds to accept the petitioner’s contentions.
The NGT was hearing a petition filed by a private company for clarification that its products — Potassium thiosulfate and Calcium, classified as liquid fertilisers — did not fall under the notification.
The petition further said that on representation made to the ministry in August, it had “wrongly held” that the inorganic chemicals were under the ambit of the notification and prior environmental clearance was required for their production.
“We are unable to entertain the application,” a bench comprising Chairperson Justice AK Goel, Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad said.
The bench said the issue was not raised by any victim of environmental violation and the notification clearly mentioned chemical fertiliser, which was enough to cover every type of chemical.
The bench said the EIA process was part of the precautionary principle and it had to be strictly interpreted to ensure that any activity having a potentially adverse impact on the environment was not excluded from the regime.
The green panel noted that the petitioner had relied on the ministry’s stand in a previous matter that inorganic chemicals did not fall within the purview of the EIA notification.
“Thus, merely because erroneous stand in law has been taken by the MoEF&CC (ministry) in some matters can be no grounds to accept the contention of the applicant…,” the tribunal said while dismissing the application.
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