Delhi High Court seeks Centre's response in challenge to Expert Appraisal Committee for environmental appraisal of power, mining projects
Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court seeks Centre's response in challenge to Expert Appraisal Committee for environmental appraisal of power, mining projects

The Expert Appraisal Committee is for Thermal Power and Coal Mining Projects.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice in a challenge to the constitution of the "Expert Appraisal Committee" for environmental appraisal of Thermal Power and Coal Mining Projects. (Manoj Mishra vs UOI)

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan has sought Central government's response in the petition preferred by Manoj Mishra (petitioner), a retired Indian Forest Services Officer and environmental activist.

As per the petitioner, the appointment of four members, including the Chairperson's, is ultra vires the parent legislation, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the EIA Notification, 2006.

The appointment notification dated July 10, 2020, the petitioner informs, has appointed 9 ‘non-officials’ and 6 'official' members to the Committee.

The petitioner asserts that the mandatory requirement of constitution of the Committee is that it should comprise of ‘Expert’, and does not make any reference to ‘official’ and ‘non-officials’.

Appointment or classification as ‘official’ and ‘non-officials' is dehors the statutory scheme, especially the EIA Notification of 2006, it is argued.

The petitioner submits that as per the eligibility criteria given in Appendix VI of the EIA Notification, members ought to be experts having certain educational qualifications and relevant experience in specific fields/ disciplines including, inter alia, Environment Quality and Project Management in relevant sectors.

It also carifies that in the event that persons fulfilling the criteria of ‘Experts’ are not available, ‘Professionals’ in the same field with sufficient experience may be considered.

However, in the present case, the selection of "under-qualified/unfairly selected/biased/non-independent members" has taken place, which would cause serious prejudice to the environment and ecology of the country, thereby violating the citizen’s right to a clean environment, the petitioner has pleaded.

The petition is filed through Advocate Srishti Agnihotri.

The petition would be heard next on January 22.

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