The National Green Tribunal today rapped the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for disobeying its order to refund Rs 12 cr to a private builder in the state and warned it of "coercive action" if the money is not refunded by July 5.
A bench headed by Acting NGT Chairperson, Justice Jawad Rahim refused to accept the state pollution control board's plea that they have not complied with the Tribunal's February 13 order to refund the money because they were thinking of challenging it in the Supreme Court.
"It is difficult to accept this submission for the reason (that) we issued the specific direction as early as in February 2018 and if at all the respondent was aggrieved, it could have approached the Supreme Court by now. Be that as it may, we find no impediment to enforce our order and direct that the amount shall be refunded in terms of the order to the applicant by July 5, 2018, failing which we will be constrained to take coercive action as permissible under the provision of the National Green Tribunal Act," the bench said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by SSM Builders and Promoters seeking directions to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to comply with the order and to refund Rs 12 cr to it with interest.
The green panel in 2015 had quashed two office memorandums of the environment ministry after finding them violating the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and had imposed a penalty of Rs 36 cr on SSM Builders and Promoters for commencing a construction work without obtaining prior environmental clearance.
Later, the tribunal in February this year had reduced the amount to Rs 24 cr and asked the state pollution control board to refund an amount of Rs 12 cr with the interest.
"Tamil Nadu pollution control board is permitted to utilise the said amount of Rs 24 Cr with the interest accrued thereon lying in the separate account for restoration of the environment within the Chennai Metropolitan area," the bench had said.