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Case against Gujarat Govt & Adani company disposed

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, April 02, 2016 | 3:18 AM

A Special Leave Petition (Civil) 20520 of 2015 was filed in the Supreme Court in November 2015 in the matter of a judgment and order dated 17th April, 2015 of the Gujarat High Court in WP (PIL) No. 12 of 2011 wherein High Court had dismissed the petition filed by the Kheti Vikas Seva Trust. The 73 page long High Court’s order was passed by Justice Vijay Manohar Sahai and Justice R.P.Dholaria.

The High Court’s order records, “the Committee has recommended following measures for project clearance conditions and post clearance monitoring:
1. The current regulatory system is not able to handle the complexity and size of projects of this nature. There is an urgent need to strengthen the monitoring abilities and to bring in public oversight.
2. The monitoring and auditing of such a large project is only possible, if the clearance conditions are specific and detailed, geo-referenced and there is a lands at imagery analysis to benchmark
the project area, pre-construction. Without these benchmarks, it is not possible, to ascertain the extent and scale of the violations committed during construction and operation phase.
3. More, importantly, a system should be developed so that all monitoring data is widely accessible by local communities to use and comprehend in terms of impacts.” This committee was set up by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests “to look into the complaints regarding severe impact upon environment safety and integrity committed by M/s.Adani Port and SEZ Ltd.”  

It appears strange that although the High Court recorded these recommendations of the independent committee that expressed distress at the cumulative damage caused by Adani’s projects, still the petition was dismissed.

The High Court's order conclusively states "the respondent-company has been granted phase-wise Environmental Clearance beginning the year-1995 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Government of India, New Delhi for their project and the State Government has allotted various parcels of lands to the respondent-company and they have developed the area pursuant to such Environmental Clearance and allotment of lands. The committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), New Delhi to look into the complaints regarding severe impact upon environment safety and integrity committed by M/s.Adani Port and SEZ Ltd has submitted its detailed report with recommendation to the Government of India and the same is under consideration of the competent authorities. In view of the aforesaid observations made by the committee, we are convinced that no directions is required to be issued in the matter and the complaint and grievance raised by the petitioner appears to be misplaced." 

This matter came up for hearing before Supreme Court’s bench of the Chief Justice T. S Thakur and Justice Amitava Roy on 27th November, 2015. It was mentioned before the bench of Chief Justice and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit on 3rd March, 2016.  The matter was listed for hearing on 18th March, 2016. The Court’s website shows that the case was disposed on 18th March.

The petition was filed against State of Gujarat, District Collector, Kutch, Mundra Port and SEZ, Adani Power Limited and others  because of the continuous and wilful activities of the Respondent Companies in the Mundra coastal region which includes Coastal Regulation Zone area and “Reserved Forests” of mangrove trees are leading to large scale ecological imbalance in the area including destruction of mangrove forests, blocking and drying of creeks, salinity ingress into ground water, fly ash mismanagement and consequent hazards, loss of agricultural yield and significant health risks in the surrounding population.

It was filed because the SEZ and the 4 ports and the thermal power station of Adani company were granted conditional environmental clearances whereas these conditions were never met thereby leading to gross ecological imbalance in the reserved forests of  mangroves and in the Coastal Regulation Zone.  

It was filed because these conditional environmental clearances were revocable on the conditions not being met by the companies in question. The activities of the Respondent Companies include operating from the thermal power plant built on one arm of the Siracha river, hence, blocking the flow of the river, dredging and reclamation of coastal and forest land by use of various heavy machinery and manpower, use of Kachcha Channel and Kachcha Pond for drawing sea water, thereby, causing excessive salinity ingress into the ground water, disposal of fly ash (a residue produced from thermal power plant) in the open area and on village roads, thus, leading to fly ash mismanagement and related hazards, and bunding and filling of creeks for land reclamation.

The petition prayed for grant of the Special Leave to Appeal against the final order and judgment dated 17th April, 2015 in Writ Petition (PIL) No. 12 of 2011 passed by the High Court of Gujarat. The petition sought relief in terms of ror revocation of conditional environmental clearance issued vide letter No. J-13011/7/2007-IA-II(T) dated 13.08.2007, letter No. 10-94/2007-IA-III dated 29.05.2008, letter No.10-47/2008-IA-III dated 12.01.2009,  Addendum dated 19.01.2009, letter No.J 13012/126/2008-IA-II(T) dated 20.05.2010 and all other conditional clearances granted to Mundra Port and SEZ and Adani Power Limited for project activities in Mundra coastal region.

Naran Bharu Seda Gadhvi, the petitioner informed ToxicsWatch Alliance that the Court said that the matter requires to be looked into by the High Court or National Green Tribunal. Given the fact that Court’s order is still awaited there is lack of clarity as to what is the next course of action for the petitioner. The record of proceedings mentions Shodika and Satya Mitra as the advocates for the petitioner. The petitioner informed that Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves argued his case on 18th March in the apex court.     






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