NGT directs UP to file response on plea questioning exemption from environmental clearance to brick kilns

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file a response on a petition questioning its circular exempting brick kilns mining or excavating up to two metres from requiring environmental clearance.

The state government, in a circular dated May 1, 2020, had provided the exemption to brick kilns and a particular pottery work (handmade earthen pots). This circular was questioned on the grounds of not being compliant with the Supreme Court’s directions mandating Environment Impact Assessment clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The apex court’s 2012 direction pertained to those minor mineral mining projects that were leased for areas less than or equal to five hectares. Following the top court’s directions, the Union Environment Ministry issued a notification regarding compulsory environmental clearance in January 2016, the petition said.

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A bench of Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Expert Member A Senthil Vel said the issue raised in the petition involved a “substantial question” regarding compliance with the environmental laws.

“Respondent No 3, state of Uttar Pradesh, is directed to file the response on or before the next date of hearing,” the bench said in a recent order.

The green panel also issued notices to the respondents, including the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The matter has been listed for further proceedings on December 11.

Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal had filed the petition on behalf of an environment activist.

Bansal submitted that the exemption granted to the kilns was against the ministry’s notification and environmental laws.

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