How Pawar, Modi Tried To Help A Builder Fight India's Green Laws

Akshay Deshmane
Rajya Sabha MP and veteran Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a file photo from February 2016. 

NEW DELHI—Veteran Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar lobbied Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defang the National Green Tribunal (NGT) after the tribunal imposed damages of at least Rs 105 crore on Goel Ganga Developers (India) Pvt. Ltd, a Pune-based real estate company.

The damages were imposed for violating environmental laws, and to undo environmental destruction caused when the company expanded the scope of a residential and commercial construction project beyond what was allowed in its environmental clearance, official documents accessed by HuffPost India reveal.

The documents show Pawar’s efforts began in October  2016, and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) took his lobbying efforts seriously.

The PMO told the Environment Ministry and the Finance Ministry to gather inputs and prepare comments within five days, the documents show. The environment ministry’s internal communication shows its officials treated the matter as a “priority.”

The following year, in March 2017, the Modi government gave itself wide-ranging powers to appoint and dismiss members of the NGT by making changes to the NGT Act. These legally questionable changes were subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court in mid-2018.

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