Skip to main content

Gujarat industries told to stop operations, pay Rs 10 lakh fine each: "Illegal" environmental clearance

By Our Representative
In an important judgment, India’s environmental watchdog, National Green Tribunal (NGT), has struck down Environment Clearance (EC) procedure adopted during 1998-2003 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEF), Government of India, for granting what was called “ex-post-facto environmental clearance” several defaulting industrial units of Gujarat.
In a judgment delivered 13 years after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in 2003 by well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, along with Ziya Pathan of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the NGT termed the ex-post-facto environmental clearance “illegal”.
Ex-post-facto environmental clearances means EC to industries granted after production work started in these industries. As on March 13, 2003, the MoEF had revealed, there were 213 such defaulting industries across India, though, said Prajapati talking with newspersons, there is so far no information on defaulting industries that operated as on November 5, 1998, the date MoEF claimed that it learnt of the defaulting industries starting their production without prior EC.
It is not clear if the NGT order would apply to all the 213 units the MoEF had identified in March 2013, or only to several of the Gujarat units which had opposed the PIL filed by Prapapati and Pathan.
The NGT bench of Justice VR Kingaonkar and Dr Ajay A Deshpande, which sits in its Western Zone Branch in Pune, stated in its order, delivered on January 8, that the MoEf circular dated May 14, 2002, “does not show by which provisions, the power is provided in the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, to allow ‘ex-post facto’ EC.”
It insisted, the circular is “void, ab-initio and ought to be struck down”, saying “We have no hesitation in holding that ‘ex-post facto’ process of obtaining ECs was just a farce, stage managed, wrong and impermissible under the law and suffered from illegality, which is incurable in any manner.”
Calling the circular “illegal, void and inoperative”, the NGT asks the MoEF to “immediately clarify legal position to the concern authorities within one month”, telling it not to take “any further action on basis of aforementioned Circular.”
The NGT order asks the units which had opposed Prapapati’s PIL to close down industrial activities, and take instead “consent to operate” immediately, within four weeks, inasmuch “as they are being operated without any legal permission/consent” and on the basis of the “concept of ‘ex-post facto’ sanction or ‘ex-post facto’ hearing.”
The NTG order wants each unit to pay Rs 10 lakh each for “causing environmental degradation”, which, it says, should be “utilized for restoration of environment and if any reminder available for plantation purpose in and around the Ankleshwar industrial area.”
In case of failure to deposit the amount the district collector, Bharuch, says the order, should take steps to “confiscate the industries and goods, stock and barrel and may sale the same for recovery of amount, as if it is dues under the Gujarat Land Revenue Code.”
The industrial units that would be affected because of ex-post-facto environmental clearance, Prajapati said, are United Phosphorous Ltd, Unit No. II, Plot No. 3405, 3406, GIDC, Ankleshwar, Dist. Bharuch; Unique Chemicals, Plot No. 5, Phase IV, GIDC, Panoli, Dist: Bharuch; Darshak Pvt. Ltd. Village: Panelav, Tal: Halol, Dist: Panchmahal (now known As Alembic Chemical Ltd.); and Nirayu Pvt. Ltd. Village: Panelav, Tal: Halol, Dist: Panchmahal (now known as Alembic Chemical Ltd.).

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.