Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, challenging the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed on the state by the National Green Tribunal for not cleaning up the Buckingham Canal, Adyar and Cooum rivers.
A Division Bench of Justices R Subbaiah and C Saravanan held that the petition was not maintainable, pointing out that as per Section 22 of the NGT Act, an appeal against any order of the tribunal can be made only in the Supreme Court.
The high court had on April 9 granted an interim stay on the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed by the NGT-South Zone for the government's failure to restore Adyar and Cooum rivers and the Buckingham Canal here.
Directing the government to pay the penalty to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the NGT in its February 13 order had said the money shall be utilised to restore the water bodies.
The tribunal had acted on a batch of petitions, including one from social activist Jawahar Shanmugam, seeking a direction to the state government to restore and revive the water bodies.
Adyar and Cooum are two of the most polluted rivers to flow through any major urban agglomeration anywhere in the world and the state government was accountable for the situation, the tribunal had observed in its order.
Besides, the NGT had stated that the state authorities have had a history of non-compliance on this serious issue of pollution of water bodies, despite several observations and directions from the tribunal since 2014 to restore and conserve these vital ecosystems, besides removing encroachments from them. The tribunal had also pointed out the Rs.600 crore allocated for the restoration project launched in 2015 but the progress has been negligible.
The government had challenged the NGT order contending that it "lacked application of mind and was based on mistake of facts". It was also contrary to the principles of natural justice and was arbitrary and unreasonable, the state's petition before the HC has argued.
(With PTI report)...