New Delhi: In a setback to the GMR group, the Supreme Court on Friday did not allow the construction of Goa's new greenfield international airport at Mopa and ordered that an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) would study allegations related to specific environmental concerns.
Directing the committee to undertake the assessment in a month's time and submit its report to the court, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta put under suspension the environment clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in October 2015.
"Bearing in view the necessity to maintain a balance between the need for an airport and environmental concerns, we are of the view that it would be appropriate if the EAC is directed to revisit the conditions subject to which it granted its EC on the basis of the specific concerns which have been highlighted," said Justice Chandrachud, speaking for the bench.
In a slew of directions the court said that the "EAC shall revisit the recommendations made by it for the grant of an EC, including the conditions which it has formulated, having regard to the specific concerns which have been highlighted" and it would carry out its task within one month of the receipt of a copy of this order.
It further said that until the EAC carries out the fresh exercise, the EC granted by the MoEFCC on October 28, 2015 "shall remain suspended".
Upon the reconsideration of the matter, the court said that if the EAC allows the construction to proceed then it would impose "such additional conditions" which in its expert view would adequately protect the concerns about the terrestrial eco systems.
The EAC, the court said, would be at liberty to "lay down appropriate conditions concerning air, water, noise, land, biological and socioeconomic environment".
The court further said that the EAC "shall have due regard to the assurance furnished by the concessionaire to this Court that it is willing to adopt and implement necessary safeguards bearing in mind international best practices governing greenfield airports".
Having ordered a fresh environment assessment, the court barred all courts and tribunals from entertaining challenges to the report that would be submitted by the EAC to the top court.
"No other Court or Tribunal shall entertain any challenge to the report that is to be submitted before this Court by the EAC in compliance with the present order," the court said in its direction.