SC forbids Goel Ganga developers from selling flats
The Supreme Court (SC) has forbidden the Goel Ganga developers from creating any third party rights in its projects on Sinhagad Road — Ganga Bhagyoday, Amrut Ganga and Ganga Towers — which means that the builders would not be able to sell any flats or shops of these projects till the next date of hearing.
The order was passed on Thursday after the developer’s appeal, seeking a stay order against the recent directive of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Pune bench, which has imposed a fine of Rs 195 crore for causing environmental damage at Goel Ganga’s three mega projects on Sinhagad Road. The NGT’s latest order was in the wake of a review petition filed by Tanaji Gambhire, a customer who has purchased a flat in the Goel Ganga scheme.
While hearing the appeal against the NGT order, the bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta in their order asked the advocates of Goel Ganga and Gambhire respectively to file affidavits indicating the number of buildings, area constructed, number of flats, number of flats occupied, number of flats unsold and the stage of construction of all these projects. The bench also asked them to file the affidavits before January 30.
Expressing disagreement with the NGT order, Goel Ganga Developers had filed the appeal in the apex court with the request to stay the recovery of the said amount. Goel Ganga claimed that the firm has already obtained environment clearance (EC) in 2008 before starting work and also obtained the revised EC in 2017. The appeal also said that the work going on at the site is in keeping with the permissions received from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the environmental department.
“The NGT, while deciding our case, has referred to issues like definition of built-up area and implication of carbon footprint. These issues are not pertaining to only our projects, but have larger connotations effecting construction projects of the whole country. Hence, on July 7, 2017, the ministry of environment and forests’ department, Government of India, had to interfere, clarifying the built-up issue raised in our previous order, dated September 27, 2016. We feel the issue of carbon footprint raised in the order dated January 8, 2018, requires clarity in the law and we alone cannot be held responsible for violations due to carbon footprint,” added the Goel Ganga appeal.
The NGT, in its judgment dated January 8, had stated, “Goel Ganga Developers India Private Limited shall pay environmental compensation cost of Rs 190 crore or 5 per cent of the total cost of project, to be assessed by State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), whichever is more, for restoration and restitution of environment damage and degradation caused by the project proponent by carrying out the construction activities without the necessary prior environmental clearance within a period of one month. In addition to this, it shall also pay a sum of Rs 5 crore for contravening the mandatory provision of several environment laws in carrying out the construction activities in addition to and exceeding limit of the available environment clearance and for not obtaining the consent from the Board.”