National Green Tribunal (NGT) chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar imposed a fine of Rs 130 crores and cancelled the environmental clearance and plan sanctions of Mantri Techzone, a Rs. 2,300 crore mixed residential project under SEZ. The project was cleared by High Level Clearance Committee during Global Investors Meet of 2000 by then chief minister of Karnataka, S M Krishna. Further, the developers have been instructed to demolish all existing structures and development works in the buffer zone and to restore the encroached 3.10 acres lake bed to its original pristine condition before handing it over to the authorities.
In a hard hitting impact on all constructions in and around river beds in Bengaluru city, the NGT declared a no-construction zone of 75 metres for lakes and wetlands as against 30 metres earlier. This will stall all new projects and impact the existing ones in the city.
Tribunal has formed a eight member committee to study the feasibility of existing and proposed projects and their environmental impact upon the water-bodies, particularly lakes across Bengaluru city and submit their report within 3 months.
Invoking Sec 20 of NGT Act, the tribunal imposed a fine of Rs. 117.35 crore on Mantri Tech Zone Pvt Ltd. and Rs. 13.5 crore on Core Mind Software and Services Ltd. both Bengaluru based builders for commencing construction work at their SEZ project located at Bellandur lake catchment area without receiving Environmental Clearance. It noted that while Environmental Clearance was issued to Mantri and Core Mind on February 17th, 2012 and September 30th, 2013 respectively whereas, the construction activities had been carried out by the builders much before the grant of Environmental Clearance. The bench has restrained both the developers from selling the land or passing on the property or fine to potential purchasers until the report is submitted. The committee has to submit the report to the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Tribunal within three months.
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