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HC restrains widening of NH-4A in Belagavi for now

SIKIRU ABDURRAFIU

Nov. 29, 2019

No clarity on whether environmental clearance granted for project still in force
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday restrained the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) from widening NH-4A in Belagavi region until further orders as there was no clarity on whether the environment clearance granted for the project was still in force.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur passed the interim order as the NHAI counsel could not produce documents when the court asked whether the environmental clearance, given in 2007 for the project, was still valid.
Environmental clearance
The NHAI could not bring it to the notice of the court whether the period of environmental clearance was extended as clearance was given several years ago before actual work commenced.
The Bench was hearing a PIL petition, filed by environmentalist Suresh Heblikar and two others.
The petitioners had questioned the legality of widening the NH-4A while complaining that the project adversely affects forest reserves, elephant corridors, and tiger reserves in Belagavi region.
However, the NHAI, during an earlier hearing, had produced documents before the court clarifying that it is not widening the 13.32-km stretch of the NH passing through the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, while denying the allegation that it has violated the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection Act in widening the remaining stretch of the highway.
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