HC rejects TN’s plea against Rs 100 crore penalty

Chennai: The Madras High Court today dismissed a petition filed by the Tamilnadu government, challenging the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed on the State by the National Green Tribunal for not cleaning the Buckingham Canal, Adyar and Cooum rivers.

A Division Bench of Justices R Subbaiah and C Saravanan held the petition as not maintainable, saying as per Section 22 of the NGT Act, an appeal against any order of the tribunal can be made only in the Supreme Court.

The High Court had on 9 April granted an interim stay on the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed by the NGT-South Zone for the government’s failure to restore Adyar and Cooum rivers and the Buckingham Canal here.

Directing the government to pay the penalty to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the tribunal in its 13 February order had said the money shall be utilised to restore the water bodies.

The government had challenged the NGT order contending that it “lacked non-application of mind and was based on mistake of facts.”

It was also contrary to the principles of natural justice and was arbitrary and unreasonable, the petition argued.
The NGT had passed the order on a batch of pleas, including one moved by social activist Jawahar Shanmugam, seeking a direction to the state to restore and revive the water bodies.

Adyar and Cooum are two of the most polluted rivers to flow through any major urban agglomeration anywhere in the world and the State government was accountable for the situation, the tribunal had observed in its order.