The Bombay High Court, in an interim order on Wednesday, stayed the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) proceedings following a notice to the JSW group’s Alibaug steel plant alleging it of violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.
A bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardessai have also asked JSW to file a reply of its arguments.
The directions came while the bench was hearing a plea filed by JSW against an NGT notice of November, last year. At the time, NGT had issued a notice both to JSW and to the ministry of environment and forests, following allegations that JSW, in the process of expansion of its Ispat Steel Plant at Dolvi near Alibaug, had destroyed mangroves and violated CRZ norms but the MoEF had still granted it clearance.
The notice came after one DN Patil, a resident of Alibaug, filed an appeal before the NGT.
In 2014, a PIL was filed by another Alibaug resident on similar grounds, though at the time, the expansion was yet to receive the MoEF’s assent. The PIL is currently pending hearing before the HC and is likely to be taken up by another division bench in January next year.
On Wednesday, JSW argued that it already had all permissions for the expansion of its steel plant from the capacity of five million tonne to ten million tonne. It also argued that since the 2014 PIL was pending before the HC, the NGT notice must not be acted upon and instead, the matter should be decided by the High Court.
Pratap meanwhile, argued that the NGT notice was well warranted, considering that the expansion “violated the CRZ notification of 2011 since the plant came in a CRZ-I area that hosted mangroves and creeks and was earmarked as a ‘no development zone.’
HC has now tagged JSW’s plea with the 2014 PIL and is likely to take them for further hearing on January 6 next year.