After HC rap, MoEF may not extend Adani Ports environment clearance

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 18 2014, 00:58am hrs
After being slammed by the Gujarat High Court for a poor scrutiny of the Adani Groups special economic zone at Mundra SEZ, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is unlikely to extend the environment clearance (EC) given to the project as it violated conditions like cutting mangroves, blocking creeks and careless disposal of fly ash.

The courts order on closure of 12 units in the SEZ notwithstanding, the project, which was granted clearance in 2009, had to come up for extension of the clearance later this month as the approval was valid only for five years from the commencement of operations. The clearances pertain to the waterfront development project, which includes the north, south, west and east ports of Mundra Port and SEZ and laying down of intake and outfall system for the thermal power plant with revised locations.

Considering that we had issued a showcause notice to the company for violating compliance norms, we may not extend the clearance and the company may have to apply afresh for the environment clearance, said a senior environment ministry official.

The high court had also directed the ministry to take a call within 30 days on the status of the 12 manufacturing units in the SEZ run by Adani Ports and SEZ and had prohibited the company from undertaking any new construction or reclamation activities in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) areas.

The ministry had issued a showcause notice to the company in December 2010 after a site inspection revealed violations related to construction of airport, township and hospital without prior environment and CRZ clearances.

Besides, a Sunita Narain-led committee had said last year that Mundra Ports & SEZ had hid the true nature of the projects to get faster clearance. For instance, it had delinked the port and SEZ components. Than, the company had bypassed the mandatory procedure of public hearings on one pretext or another and that the airstrip at the SEZ had been constructed even before the SEZ had secured environment clearance. The report even said the company might have "started work prior to receiving environmental clearance".

With the company not taking enough precautions, local groundwater was turning saline. It might have violated the CRZ by building too close to the coast, it said.