How Sharad Pawar and PM Modi diluted green laws to benefit a builder

Written by Sabrang India | Published on: May 16, 2019

One of the suggested amendments to the NGT Act made in an attached document to Pawar’s letter was to remove the residential building construction projects from the need to get consent to operate and consent to establish —both provisions found in air and water pollution laws.


Modi and pawar
 
Mumbai: Veteran Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar lobbied Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defang the National Green Tribunal (NGT) after the tribunal-imposed damages of at least Rs 105 crore on Goel Ganga Developers (India) Pvt. Ltd, a Pune-based real estate company, Huffington Post in its exclusive story reported.
 
The damages were imposed for violating environmental laws, and to undo the environmental destruction caused when the company expanded the scope of a residential and commercial construction project beyond what was allowed in its environmental clearance, official documents accessed by HuffPost India reveal.
 
The documents show Pawar’s efforts began in October 2016, and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) took his lobbying efforts seriously.
 
The PMO told the Environment Ministry and the Finance Ministry to gather inputs and prepare comments within five days, the documents show. The environment ministry’s internal communication shows its officials treated the matter as a “priority.”
 
The following year, in March 2017, the Modi government gave itself wide-ranging powers to appoint and dismiss members of the NGT by making changes to the NGT Act. These legally questionable changes were subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court in mid-2018.
 
HuffPost India has previously reported how the PMO overturned a decade’s worth of environmental law to aid the real estate lobby and improve India’s rank on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index —only to be halted in its tracks by the NGT. One of the particular provisions detailed in this investigation was how the government sought to remove the real estate sector from the purview of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
 
One of the suggested amendments to the NGT Act made in an attached document to Pawar’s letter was to remove the residential building construction projects from the need to get consent to operate and consent to establish —both provisions found in air and water pollution laws. A demand which CREDAI had lobbied for as well, HuffPost reported.
 
But it is not only the real estate sector. A closer look shows the pattern of dilution of legal safeguards for the environment is much more broad-based in terms of sectors. And as HuffPost India reported in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally overseeing this process. This may well be the reason why Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar felt confident enough to lobby against the NGT and in favour of a builder with the Prime Minister himself.  
 
Read the full article on HuffPost here.