Sunday, August 12, 2018

Gujarat high court cancels green clearance for Surat township

The Gujarat high court has cancelled the environment clearance as well as CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance granted to a company near Olpad. 

In quashing the green clearances, the high court directed the authorities to conduct detailed inquiries into the damage caused to environment before considering fresh clearances. “Cutting of mangroves cannot be permitted as it ultimately affects the environment and the ecological balance,” the high court observed. “No one can be permitted to play with nature and ultimately affect the future generations. Similar is with respect to creeks/sub-creeks.” 

The high court further said, “To close the creeks/sub-creeks is also not in the larger public interest and it can be said to be against nature.” Therefore, the high court said, before granting the environmental clearance and the CRZ clearance, detailed scrutiny was required. Such environment clearance and CRZ clearance cannot be granted mechanically, the high court said. “That seems to have happened in the present case,” it said. 

The high court quashed the green clearances after allegations were made by NGOs that Shree Rama News Prints & Papers Ltd has been destroying the mangrove cover and blocking the sub-creek of Tena creek in violation of CRZ norms in Barbodhan village near Olpad. The NGOs objected to the company’s bid to lease the land to a developer for the construction of a township on 6,87,960 sq metre plot. This land was allotted to the company by the state government in 1992, but after getting the process done by paying a premium, the company wanted to hand over a part of the plot to the developer. 

The court said that if the allegations are true, they are very serious. It also took into consideration the views of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the forest department while quashing the green clearance. It has ordered the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and other authorities concerned to conduct a detailed investigation before granting fresh environment and CRZ clearances for the project.

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