New Delhi, Jul 10: The National Green Tribunal today slapped a fine on the Akshardham temple management for carrying out expansion without prior environmental clearance and asked a committee on revitalisation of Yamuna to examine whether the expanded portion fell on the river's floodplains.
"We refer the matter, particularly the issue whether the temple's expanded part falls in the river Yamuna floodplain area or not and the second, whether the conditions of tribunal are complied or not to principal committee constituted for 'Maily se Nirmal Yamuna' revitalisation project 2017," a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The NGT levelled a fine of five per cent of the total cost incurred in the expansion of temple complex, located on the river bank along National Highway 24. It also directed the principal committee to submit its report within three months.
"Since most of the issues raised in the petition have been addressed in July 7 judgement regarding two office memorandums of Ministry of Environment and Forests, there is no point in making a third committee to look into the issue when already two committees have been formed on similar issues," the bench said.
The tribunal had formed the first principal committee on January 13 to carry out its directives regarding a project to revitalise the river Yamuna. The second panel was formed on July 7 after NGT quashed two office memorandums of MoEF on environmental clearances to already constructed projects or those where construction has commenced.
The bench passed the order on a petition filed by one Manoj Mishra alleging that the Akshardham temple complex had allegedly used one of these two memorandums to get a "post facto" clearance for expanding the complex on a proposed built-up area of 25,497 square metres.
The petitioner said while the construction allegedly started in 2011 at the temple, the environment clearance was granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) only in July 2013.
The NGT had sought response on November 1, 2013 from the Centre and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Mishra's plea challenging the environmental clearance granted for expansion of the Akshardham Temple complex here. He had said that environment clearance was granted in violation of a 2006 Environment Impact Assessment notification.