SC refuses to stay NGT ban on Adani’s Hazira port, fines co Rs 25 cr
In a major setback to Gujarat-based Adani Hazira Port Pvt Ltd (AHPPL), the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) order, which cancelled the environmental clearance granted to Hazira Port.business Updated: Jan 28, 2016 23:59 IST
In a major setback to Gujarat-based Adani Hazira Port Pvt Ltd (AHPPL), the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) order, which cancelled the environmental clearance granted to Hazira Port.
A bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur, however, issued notice to the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) on AHPPL’s appeal against the NGT order. It also directed AHPPL to deposit Rs 25 crore as penalty for damages caused to the environment and restrained the company from carrying out any fresh construction activity there.
In a response to the stock exchanges, Adani Ports and SEZs said “neither our construction nor operations are affected in any manner.”
Adani Ports had challenged the NGT order before the apex court. It wanted the CJI’s bench to stay the green court’s direction cancelling the company’s environmental clearance, which came on a petition filed by a union of local fishermen, who alleged that there was non-compliance on the part of the AHPPL. The union also challenged the multi-crore infrastructure project on the ground that besides damaging the ecology, the project also led to the displacement of more than 300 poor fishermen families.
The Pune bench of the green tribunal not only cancelled the MoEF clearance to the port given in 2013, but also slapped a penalty of Rs 25 crore. The NGT had held that the clearance was illegal and “must be set aside.”
Senior advocate and former finance minister P Chidambaram, arguing for AHPPL, said the cancellation order had hit the operations, and the port could not be operated smoothly. “Investments to the tune of Rs 3,300 crore have been called into question because of one single order. Shipping operations have become dysfunctional,” he said.
However, the bench took the view that cancellation of a clearance does not affect the shipping and port operations. It said giving any interim order at this juncture, without hearing those who petitioned the NGT, would not be fair. While seeking the MoEF and the fishermen’s response, the bench said it would take up the matter within four weeks.
Besides MoEF, the court also issued notices and sought responses from the Gujarat government, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the Gujarat Maritime Board and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority. The court has asked the authorities to file reports on environmental compliance by AHPPL.