NHAI pays โ‚น5L donation for remarks; HC accepts apology

After the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) paid โ‚น2.5 lakh each as donation for environmental causes to two organisations, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday permitted the authority to withdraw its affidavit containing the controversial remark that Environment Protection Act, 1986, was passed by the Parliament โ€œnot only to protect environment but also at the instance of foreign powers.โ€

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum allowed the NHAI to withdraw the entire statement filed on behalf of the authority containing many controversial remarks, and accepted the apology for the remarks.

The NHAI said that it had paid โ‚น2.5 lakh each to Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun, and the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

โ€œWe hope and trust that considering what has transpired in the proceedings, the officers of the NHAI will show sensitivity to laws relating the environment,โ€ the Bench observed during the hearing of PIL petition, which had questioned the 2013 order of exemption from Environmental Impact Assessment for certain types of highway projects.

Besides removing an advocate who had signed the statement from its panel, the NHAI, on the direction of the court, had also ordered an inquiry on the filing of the statement containing controversial remarks.

The Bench, during an earlier hearing, had said that it would allow the NHAI to withdraw the statement only if it donated a substantial amount for the causes of environment.

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