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SHC rejects DHA plea against Clifton project’s EIA report
10-18-2014, 12:21 PM
Post: #1
SHC rejects DHA plea against Clifton project’s EIA report
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court threw out on Friday a petition of the Defence Housing Authority challenging the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) which had approved the construction of a flyover and two underpasses in Clifton.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah dismissed the petition as without merit.

According to the DHA, its officials, residents and representatives of the Hindu community objected to the project at a public hearing on the grounds that it encroached upon the Jehangir Kothari Parade, a heritage site, and also caused damage to the historic structures of Sri Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple and Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in the vicinity. But their objections were not taken into account before issuing the EIA report, it claimed.

Also read: Execution of Clifton project approval by Sepa stayed

The DHA counsel contended before the court that Sepa had not complied with the provisions of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 and other related environment laws.

He said the EIA report was based on incorrect facts and figures and insufficient data. Besides, neither major stakeholders were consulted nor their objections removed.

The DHA requested the court to declare the report as illegal and annul it.

In its judgment, the court observed that perusal of the record reflected that the comments received through the public hearing were duly tabulated and examined and response of the proponent was sought. Therefore, the DHA’s contention to that extent appeared to be misconceived.

It noted that perusal of the form for the decision of an EIA also negated the contention of the DHA counsel that Sepa ought to have accepted or rejected the DHA objections through a speaking order.

In fact the law did not require Sepa to adjudicate on the grievance of stakeholders while approving the EIA, the court said. “However, the law provides for reasoning only when the agency after examining the EIA rejects the project being contrary to the environmental objectives,” it added.

The verdict said: “In case the EIA is granted, the law only provides that the approval shall specify the conditions subject to which it is accorded and in the instant case approval specifies such condition on the basis which approval was accorded.”

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2014
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