Ashish Saurabh | The TrickyScribe: Portions of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) plan used to obtain permission for redevelopment of Nauroji Nagar, Delhi, were plagiarised. The NBCC, however, said that these were typographical errors. Besides the NBCC, Central Public Works Department is also executing the project.
The EIA report which cleared the redevelopment of a residential project here was copy-pasted from an EIA report seeking clearance for a Tamil Nadu mine, Delhi High Court was told on Friday. Nauroji Nagar project was among the projects awarded to NBCC, a public sector company and formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited, to set up residential and commercial buildings, over 571 acres, in south Delhi.
Gautam Bhan, amicus curiae and an urban planning expert, told a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao that the environment report for Nauroji Nagar project contained several portions that were copy-pasted from the report seeking clearance for a mine in Tamil Nadu as the names of the state’s lakes were mentioned in the Nauroji Nagar report.
The environment clearance was given for a separate project in Nauroji Nagar although the entire redevelopment project involving seven colonies was integrated, said Bhan. He added that it clearly showed “non-application of mind” by the environment department.
The high court also asked the central government why the redevelopment projects should be allowed as the environment clearance was wrongly granted and rejected the plea for directions to allow commencement of work by the NBCC. The court was hearing several pleas, including one filed by orthopaedic surgeon Kaushal Kant Mishra, who challenged the permission granted to cut thousands of trees for the residential redevelopment project.
Delhi High Court has listed the matter for August 30 and also sought the response of the Delhi government and the Central Public Works Department. The seven south Delhi colonies where trees were to be cut are Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar and Srinivaspuri.
The project waded into controversy after it was clear that this would involve felling of not less than 11,000 trees. Though some trees have been felled in Nauroji Nagar and construction is underway, the project has been stayed after objection by civil society and the legal issues thereafter.
Though clearances were accorded by both Delhi and Central governments in 2017, in light of the controversy, each has sought to blame the other for granting permission for tree felling. While court hearings are ongoing, the project developers are restructuring the project.
The “typographical” errors
The NBCC hired Hubert Enviro Care Systems, a Chennai-based firm, as consultants to prepare the EIA. In the 168-page plan for Nauroji Nagar, the report mentions collecting water samples for assessing quality between October and December 2015 from “…Vellanguli lake, Kallidai lake, Singampatti lake, Manimuthar dam, Thamirabarani river, Thamirabarani river, Ambasamudram lake and Gadana river.”
Interestingly, these are the names of water bodies in Tamil Nadu and, it emerges, sourced from an unrelated EIA plan that the HECS had prepared for the Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd in May, 2017. In the same report, a table that supposedly lists out bird species in the area mentions instead “…cow, cat, mouse, dog”.