Friday, March 18, 2011

Fresh panel to study Nirma site: SC ,‘No Construction Activity For Eight Weeks’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered fresh environment impact assessment for Nirma’s Mahuva cement plant in Bhavnagar district and asked the project owners to stop work till an expert panel gave its report to the Centre.
Adopting a ‘no compromise on environment’ stand, a Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said the expert appraisal committee of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) would call for a report from an expert body consisting of five reputed and independent environmental scientists who would visit the site and examine whether the land on which the project is being set up is wetland or water bodies.
The bench told solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam to ensure that the fresh report would be prepared by independent and reputed environmentalists while extracting a promise from Nirma’s counsel and senior advocate Dushyant Dave that construction work would be stalled for eight weeks. Dave told the court that the company would withdraw its petition from Gujarat HC to await the decision of the apex court after the MoEF took a view on the fresh report. In the eight-week period, the report would be submitted by the expert panel to expert appraisal committee, which in turn would give its suggestions to MoEF to take a decision. “The ministry’s decision will be
placed before the court on May 10,” the bench said while stressing that the entire process would be free of the ministry’s earlier decisions on this issue.
The environment ministry had on March 12 asked Nirma to stop work and asked it to show cause why the earlier environmental clearance be not cancelled. Dave questioned the fresh scrutiny of the panel, saying the petitioner farmers represented by advocate Sanjay Hegde and the Centre had never questioned it. He said environmental clearance to the project was being made a political issue by the Union minister. The bench asked Dave to show from records whether the earlier environmental impact study had taken into account existence of wetland/water bodies in the area where the cement plant was being constructed and the impact of the project on the water bodies.

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