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NGT imposes Rs 125 cr fine on Jharkhand govt

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 125 crore on the Jharkhand government for the construction of the new Vidhan Sabha and high court buildings in Ranchi.

The penalty has been imposed by NGT for carrying out the constructions without environmental clearances.

Notably, a fine of Rs 49 crore has been imposed for the construction of the new Assembly building. Similarly, a penalty of Rs 81 crore has been imposed for the construction of the new high court premises.

Construction started during Raghubar Das’s regime

The constructions sans the environment clearance started during the tenure of Raghubar Das. However, the fine will have to be coughed up by the Hemant Soren government.

In fact, Raghubar Das during the campaigning for the Assembly polls had promoted these constructions. He had hailed the proposed Assembly building as the biggest panchayat. Both the structures were hailed as BJP’s achievements.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren has said that necessary action will be taken by his government only after thoroughly studying the NGT order.

PM Modi inaugurated the Assembly building

The sprawling Assembly building with all modern facilities was inaugurated in a haste in September 2019 by PM Narendra Modi.

The critics of BJP allege that then-Chief Minister Raghubar Das had insisted on an early inauguration. It was done to bag the credit, without checking what clearances it needs before being opened.

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The political bete noire of Raghubar Das, Saryu Roy, has also hit back. In a tweet, he said, “Who will foot the bill for the fine imposed— government, officers, contractors or someone else? Will it be settled from the state exchequer?”

Notably, Roy was denied a ticket from BJP and fought as an independent.

Environment expert had filed the petition

An environment and wildlife expert Dr RK Singh is the petitioner in the case against the state government. The NGT had entrusted the investigation of the case to a panel of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

During its hearing on September 23 last year, the NGT had said that the CPCB would decide the penalty. On March 16, 2020, the Jharkhand government was supposed to deposit the amount of the penalty against the damage to the environment. However, the same was not deposited. Post which, the NGT held the final hearing on Wednesday and imposed the fine.

Singh says that he had moved the petition to the tribunal because it was a question of justice for him. “The foundation of the two pillars of democracy – the Legislative Assembly, where the laws are made and the High Court, the custodians of the law, were being constructed in an illegal manner which is why this petition was filed,” he said.

 

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