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.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist Suresh Heblikar and journalist Joseph Hoover.
The court observed that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had obtained clearance from the National Wildlife Board in 2007 and it was for five years.
But the NHAI has initiated the work after the expiry of the period and it is necessary to take fresh clearance or renew the old one.
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 the 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.
Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald