For Immediate Release
NGT rejects Adani’s Review Petition in case of environmental clearance to the Thermal Power Project in Chhindwada, M.P.
Medha Patkar, Aradhana Bhargava & affected farmers welcome order
In a significant order dated 28th November, 2013, the Principal Bench of Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, New Delhi headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, along with Justice U.D. Salve and other members rejected a review application filed by the Adani Group. The Review application was filed against the Tribunal’s earlier order dated 11th July, 2013 in a case filed by social activistsMedha Patkar, Aradhana Bhargava, Sajje Rao and other project affected villagers challenging the environmental clearance granted to the Adani Pench Thermal Power Project in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh.
The application was filed with the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, on 6th February, 2013, after the environmental clearance was granted to the 2×660 MW Imported Coal Based Adani Thermal Power Plant proposed in Chhindwara, where the activists and villagers faced jail and repression, while the farmers and other affected populations were threatened with displacement, without assessing the environmental impacts. In their response, the Respondents i.e. the Adani Power Limited, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the state of Madhya Pradesh objected to the application on the issue of Limitation under section 16 of the NGT Act which requires that the complaint be filed within 90 days since the cause i.e. receipt of the Environment Clearance by a Project. In the Order of 11th July, 2013, the Tribunal also concluded that the respondents themselves have not been able to fully comply with the requirement of communication under the Act and the EIA notification. Taking this into view, the National Green Tribunal dismissed the issue of limitation raised by the Respondents earlier.
Adani Power Limited filed a review application against the aforesaid order, seeking fresh consideration of the issue of ‘limitation’. Adv. Sanjay Parikh and Adv. Abhimanue Shrestha, counsels pleading on behalf of the appellants urged the Tribunal to stand by its earlier order that the MoEF and the project proponent failed to discharge their onus as required by law and did not place the information about the Environment Clearance and the Environment Safeguards in its entirety in the public domain.
In its review application, Adani Power Limited came up with a RTI application dated 1st August, 2013 filed by them to the National Informatics Centre(NIC). Justice Swatanter Kumar held the same to be vague and uncertain. It does say that the letter is available for public access but could be downloaded only to the extent of permitted contents and after the same was uploaded. The expression ‘permitted contents’ clearly violates the spirit of ‘Regulation 10’ of the Notification of 2006.
The Appellants in their original application have stated that the Environmental Clearance was obtained by Adani Pench Power Ltd, in October, 2012, through falsification, concealment and misrepresentation of facts and information. Further, the Ministry has overlooked the blatant violations of the EIA Notification, 2006 at nearly every stage of the Environmental Clearance process by the various respondents. Land for a thermal power plant was acquired almost 25 years ago by the then Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB), which was later illegally transferred to Adani Power Limited.
However the project did not yet start and physical possession remained with the farmers, who had been tilling the land until they were forcefully displaced by the company, claiming that there is no issue of rehabilitation involved! Construction activity of the project commenced as early as in March, 2010, prior to grant of environmental clearance and although the commencement of the construction was brought to the notice of the state and Central authorities, no action was taken against them.
The Tribunal also stated that the present appeal raises substantial questions relating to environment and require examination on merits and set aside the Respondents contention of refusing to consider the matter based on non-meritorious issues such as ‘limitation’. It concluded that the objections raised by the applicant (Adani) in its review petition are void of any substance and merit and, therefore, deserve to be rejected.
The next hearing on merits is due to take place on 20th December, 2013. A copy of the Order is enclosed.
Madhuresh Kumar Meera Balram Verma
(National Alliance of People’s Movements) (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Chhindwada)
Contact: 09212587159 / 09179148973