New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to take a decision on grant or denial of clearances to Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) within eight weeks.
A forest bench headed by Justice J S Khehar, expressing unhappiness over delay, said this will be the last chance to the ministry and if the task is not completed the Secretary, MoEF will be personally held responsible.
The apex court while allowing operations at the functional units in the SEZ had in January asked the environment ministry to take decisions in three months. The time was extended by 8 weeks but today the court was informed that decisions are yet not taken.
Meanwhile, the court said that its earlier order allowing work at operational units will continue. Earlier, on January 27, the apex court had granted conditional permission to industrial units within the Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in Gujarat to resume operations asking them to desist from carrying out any further construction until environmental clearance from the Centre.
The apex court had retained the high court order which had said that the Centre has to decide within 30 days whether the environmental clearance should be granted.
The high court had said, “There shall not be any further activity in the form of construction, etc, including the functioning of the units in the area in question.” The PIL filed in the high court by villagers of Navinal in Mundra tehsil of Kutch district, where the SEZ is located, alleged that companies located within the zone were operating and even importing and exporting goods though they do not have environmental clearance from the MoEF.
In February 2013, the court asked Ahlstom Fiber Composites, Adi Oil, Empezar, Avesta Eng, Ashapura Garment, Terram Geosynthetic, Theramax, SKAPS Industries, Oilfield Warehouse and Services, Dorf Ketal Specialty Catalyst, Anjani Udyog and Oriental Carbon Chem to stop operations at the Mundra Port in Kutch district, pending clearance from MOEF.
The high court in its order had said, “According to the Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006, in order to have right of creation of infrastructural facilities over the land allotted, prior approval of the central government is necessary before making any construction, and without having acquired such right, the APSEZ, the allottee from the government, could not have conveyed such rights to its lessee.”
Further, the court had said, “While taking into consideration the issue of grant of environmental clearance, it would be open for the central government to even take into consideration the Sunita Narain Committee report as discussed in our judgment.”
The committee had been appointed by the MOEF earlier to inspect the project.