India: When Does Cause Of Action Arise In National Green Tribunal

Last Updated: 7 February 2017
Article by Sonam Mhatre and Umang Mehta

 THERE CANNOT BE DELAY IN SENSING ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS: NGT, PUNE

This matter relates to the plea that the Vidharbha Circket Stadium at Nagpur has caused environmental damage. Plea of Maintainability was briefly argued before Hon'ble Tribunal Bench of the National Green Tribunal, Pune.  The Complaint has been filed by the Jai Javan Jai Kisan an association & two resident of Nagpur, claiming to be social activists (the Applicants) against the Vidharbha Cricket Association (VCA) (the Respondent). An application of maintainability inter-alia on grounds of Limitation was taken out in the said matter by the Respondent.

It is the case of the Applicant, that the construction of VCA Cricket Stadium having total built up area 16,951.576 Sq. mtrs, was built without obtaining Environmental Clearance (EC) or consent to Operate and thereby injuring the environment. Major reasons of injury to environment have been mentioned by the Applicant as insufficient effluent treatment plant, parking spaces, plantation of trees and failure to hand over open spaces and public utility lands to the concerned authority. By way of the present complaint, the applicant is seeking demolition of stadium was constructed without obtaining EC.

The Respondent in its application of maintainability has submitted that the said Complaint is barred by the Limitation as specifically provided under section 15 of the National Green Tribunal, Act (NGT Act) being in case of compensation or relief of restitution of property shall be entertained by the Tribunal unless it is made within period of 5 years from the date on which the cause for such compensation or relief first arose. Respondent submitted that, In the present matter, it is an admitted position that the said Stadium was constructed prior to the year 2008 and various big Cricket tournaments have been played since year 2008. It was argued that the Complaint was filed after a gross delay. In reply to the aforesaid contentions the Advocate appearing for the Applicant, contended that as the Applicant started making RTI inquires only in year 2013 and only after it gathered information from MPCB that the said Stadium was constructed without EC, the Applicant approached the NGT, hence the present case was filed within Limitation.

After hearing the parties, the Hon'ble Tribunal observed that the said matter is essentially for environmental damage and injury due to construction of the Stadium. The causes of such damage to environment were insufficiency of Effluent Treatment Plant, Open Species, Parking spaces and tree cover. It was observed by the Hon'ble Tribunal that these facts where very much manifest when the VCA stadium became functional in 2008 itself. Hence, the Hon'ble Tribunal observed that the cause of actions arose first when the VCA Stadium became functional. Accordingly, it was held that the Application is beyond the prescribed period of provided under Section 15 of the NGT Act thereby rejecting the Main Application filed by the Applicant before NGT.

Thus, the Hon'ble Tribunal has held that, the cause of action, in case of already built assets, arises first when the structure which is allegedly responsible for pollution comes into operation. The Hon'ble Tribunal of NGT has very clearly held that, there cannot be delay in sensing environmental hazards. Thus, merely waiting for reply from RTI Applications cannot be considered as causing environmental damage and consequently valid ground for extension or commencement of new cause of action.  

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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