Forest issue: SC grants time to Centre for appointing Regulator

Supreme Court on Friday granted six months time to the Centre to appoint National Regulator for appraising projects, enforce environmental conditions for approvals and impose penalties on polluters.

PTI| Updated: Jan 16, 2015, 21:27 PM IST

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Friday granted six months time to the Centre to appoint National Regulator for appraising projects, enforce environmental conditions for approvals and impose penalties on polluters.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu allowed the plea of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) that some more time be given for appointing the regulator as some states have reservations on the issue.

The bench pointed out that the Centre had taken several adjournments after it had asked the MoEF in 2011 to appoint the national regulator.

"We cannot be blamed. The stand of the previous government was that there was no need of the regulator...The idea is not to play the hide and seek," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the MoEF, said.

The bench, which also comprised justices Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel, then granted six more months to the MoEF and said no further time would be given to it.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is an amicus curiae in the matter, said that till the time a law is put in place, the regulator can be appointed in terms of the court's order.

Earlier on January 6 last year, the court had asked the then UPA-II government to appoint the national regulator to oversee the implementation of forest policy and rejected the its plea that there was no need for such a body.

The bench had made it clear that the clearances under the Forest Act would be granted by the MoEF but the regulator will see the implementation of the Forest Policy of 1998.

Further, it had said that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 would now be dealt directly by the National Regulator for every project.

In 2013, the Centre had informed the court that there was no need for setting up of a green regulator to oversee matters related to environmental clearances and had pleaded for modification of its order for setting up such a body.

The Centre, however, had said that an authority to monitor and facilitate implementation of the National Forest Policy, 1998 will be set up.