By BS Reporter
The Gujarat High Court on Thursday stayed commercial operations and development activities of 12 companies located in the Adani Group owned Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in Mundra taluka of Kutch district, till environmental clearance is granted to them by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
The directions were issued on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by villagers of Navinal village in Mundra alleging that these companies in question have not only developed production units but also were importing and exporting goods, despite no environmental clearance by the MoEF.
A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala, while staying commercial operations by the 11 units have issued notices to the Union government, MoEF, APSEZ, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the companies in question.
The counsel for the villagers Anand Yagnik on Thursday argued that despite no environment clearance these 12 companies not only constructed their production units but also done significant business through import and export of goods.
Further, these companies have also obtained tax exemptions as per rules of the SEZ, he alleged. The petitioners also demanded that the units stop business operations till they get environmental clearance from the MoEF.
The counsel for the respondents further contended that despite the stay on construction and further development activities in entire APSEZ by the Gujarat High Court in May 2012, the companies in question were violating the court order and continuing commercial operations.
The court has also asked all the respondents in the case to file their replies before the next hearing which is scheduled after 15 days.
The companies whose operations have been stayed by High Court include Ahistrom Fiber Composites (I) Pvt Ltd, Aadi Oil Pvt Ltd, Empezar Logistics Pvt Ltd, Avesta Engineering Pvt Ltd, Ashapura Garments Ltd, Terram Geosynthetics Pvt Ltd, Theramax Ltd, Skaps Industries, Oilfield Warehouse & Services, Dorf Ketal Speciality Catalyst Pvt Ltd, Anjani Udyog Pvt Ltd and Oriental Carbon Chemicals Ltd. In May 2012 the High Court had stayed construction and further development activities by all units of APSEZ on PIL from villagers of Navinal of Mundra taluka.
The villagers were opposing construction, and other developmental activities that changes the landscape, topography or geography, within land and area around APSEZ.
This activities included filling up of Kotari creek, dredging and removal of mangrove forests and other trees.
It may be mentioned here that Gujarat high court had in May 2012 ordered Alstom Bharat Forge Power Ltd (ABFPL), one of the units in the SEZ, to stop construction and other development activities of its Rs 2,400 crore power equipment manufacturing plant.