On Tuesday, the Apex Court asked the Union Govt to explain the logic behind its 2013 decision exempting road projects of less than 100km length from prior environmental clearances as a Public Interest Litigation alleged that it was being misused to subdivide big road projects into less than 100km lengths to side-step the requirement of environment impact assessment.

Challenging the 2013 notification issued by the environment ministry, ostensibly done to speed up road projects to improve connectivity, NGO ‘Association for Protection of Democratic Rights’ through advocate Prashant Bhushan said, “All environmental regulations are being dismantled systematically in this country”. Bhushan said the SC in two judgments — Lafarge case in 2011 & T N Godavarman Thirumulpad in 2014 — had stressed the need for setting up of an independent environmental regulator as it had found that clearances to projects were given as per the wishes of the government, causing damage to the environment.

The CJI S A Bobde-led bench asked additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati to file the Centre’s response before March 18.

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