The Madras High Court on Tuesday granted an interim stay on the ₹100-crore penalty imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), South Zone, on the Tamil Nadu government for its failure to restore the Adyar and Cooum rivers and the Buckingham canal.
Directing the government to pay the penalty to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the tribunal said the money shall be used for restoring the water bodies.
A division bench comprising Justice R Subbiah and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy was hearing a petition of the government against the NGT order dated February 13 this year.
The government submitted that despite details handed over to the tribunal over the restoration of the waterways, it had passed the order directing payment of ₹100 crore.
The order lacks non-application of mind and was based on mistake of facts and contrary to the principles of natural justice and was arbitrary and unreasonable, the government said.
The NGT had passed the order on a batch of pleas, including one moved by social activist Jawahar Shanmugam seeking direction to the state to restore and revive the water bodies.
Adyar and Cooum are two of the most polluted rivers to flow through any major urban agglomeration anywhere in the world and the Tamil Nadu government is accountable for the situation, the tribunal had observed in its order.