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Indian Case Summary

Thenkeeranur Vivasayigal Nala … vs Ministry Of Environment, Forest … on 24 February, 2022 – Case Summary

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In the case of Thenkeeranur Vivasayigal Nala Sangam versus the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and others, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was presented with a dispute concerning the construction of a railway line and railway station at Kallakurichi along Kaniyamur Eri. The case was heard before the bench of K Ramakrishnan and K. Satyagopal on 24 February 2022.

Facts of the Case

The applicant, Thenkeeranur Vivasayigal Nala Sangam, represented by its Secretary G. Srinivasan, filed the case against the Union of India and other respondents, including the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the Public Works Department Government of Tamil Nadu, the Southern Railway, and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The applicant alleged that the proposed construction of the railway line and station would disrupt the Kaniyamur Eri, a significant water source for agricultural and drinking purposes in the area.

The applicant argued that the original project plan from 2005, which was later modified in 2008, avoided major water bodies and lakes. However, the current plan, according to the applicant, would impact several water bodies, tanks, wells, etc. The applicant also contended that the respondents had not obtained the necessary Environmental Clearance (EC) from the authorities as required under the EIA Notification, 2006, and other environmental laws.

Issues Raised

The primary issues raised in the case were whether the proposed railway construction required an Environmental Clearance (EC), whether it would obstruct the free flow of water in the Kaniyamur Eri, and whether any modifications were required to the project to prevent potential ecological damage to the lake.

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The court noted that the applicant had previously filed a similar application (Original Application No.193 of 2013 (SZ)) concerning the same project at a different location. In that case, the court had ruled that such a project required an Environmental Clearance (EC) and had issued specific directions to the Southern Railways regarding the construction.

In the current case, the court appointed a Joint Committee to inspect the area in question and submit a report on whether the Environmental Clearance (EC) was required for this project, whether the proposed construction would obstruct the free flow of water in the water body in question viz., Kaniyamur Eri, and whether there was any modification required.

The Joint Committee, in its report, stated that the proposed railway track was located at the far end of the Kaniyamur Tank and would not affect the water spread area (storage) of the tank. The committee also noted that a box culvert of size 4.50 M x 5.00 M was provided for feeding water from the supply channel to the tank.