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Supereme Court clears hurdle for Greater Noida Metro

Delhi metro

NEW DELHI: Clearing the decks for expansion of Metro rail projects to other cities and construction of dedicated freight corridors by the railways to boost industrialisation, the Supreme Court stayed the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) orders mandating environment clearance for such projects.
Removal of the NGT’s stay will help Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) complete the NoidaGreater Noida Metro link by the December 2017 deadline. It will also help the railways build Phase II of the dedicated freight corridor which will link industrialized areas in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It will provide connectivity to Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai from Dadri in UP and help in rapid transfer of goods. Appearing for DMRC, the pioneer project proponent which has now undertaken work in joint venture in other cities, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said expansion of Metro projects would help commuters leave their cars behind and reduce pollution.

Appearing for the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCI), additional solicitor general Maninder Singh told a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar that the freight corridor was a project of national importance which would keep a large number of cargo trucks, which are a major source of air pollution, off the roads.

After hearing the AG and the ASG, the bench wondered why the NGT thought of putting environment clearance clause on these projects. The AG told the court that the NGT orders were unnecessary since the environment ministry had exempted railway projects from green clearance in 2006.

Both DMRC and DFCCI moved appeals against NGT’s July 5 orders through advocate A D N Rao and said, “It is a matter of common knowledge that railway projects are not covered under Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 and the provisions of Section 11 of Railways Act, 1989 clearly give power to the railway administration to alter the course of any river, stream or other water courses for the purpose of constructing and maintaining bridges, passages or other works over or under them, either temporarily or permanently .”

However, DMRC and railways conceded that if the land allocated to them was leased out to private contractors to build commercial complexes next to railway tracks and stations, then the private contractor had to take environment clearance before starting construction.


Requesting the court to stay the NGT order, the AG said, “The NGT says since Metro rail is building stations, it is occupying a lot of floor area and hence will need environment clearance.” The bench issued notice on the petitions and stayed the NGT orders. The AG said because of the NGT orders, a dozen Metro rail projects were facing uncertainty .”Each Metro project can help take 50,000 cars off the roads. Should such projects need environment clearance when they help reduce pollution drastically?” he asked.

ASG Singh said the dedicated freight corridor would drastically reduce traffic congestion due to movement of cargo trucks.