SC refuses to stay penalty on Jaypee group firm

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 26 2012, 05:57am hrs
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday gave more time to the Centre to respond to a petition filed by infrastructure major Jaiprakash Associates, which has been asked to dismantle its 60mw captive power plant set up without environmental clearance.

However, it refused to stay the R100-crore fine imposed on Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) for setting up its captive thermal power plant without clearance.

The Himachal Pradesh high court on May 4 had also directed the Jaypee group company to dismantle its power plant within three months, but had allowed its 1.75-million-tonne cement plant in Solan to stay.

A bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik gave time till October 10, the next date of hearing, to the environment ministry, to file its reply.

Earlier, it had also issued notice to the Himachal Pradesh government, the Central Pollution Control Board and others.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi argued that the state electricity board had granted no objection for setting up of 25 mw multi-fuel based power plant for captive use in April 2006 and the same was later withdrawn in 2007.

According to him, the HC had wrongly ordered dismantling of the power plant which was never put up.

Besides, the third largest cement producer in the country said that the HC wrongly applied the principle of polluter pays as the condition precedent for invoking it required that there must a finding that there was damage caused to the environment from the actions of the party on whom such damages are sought to be recovered. It further said that the ministry had vide its circular on March 4, 1999 exempted all cement grinding units from obtaining environmental clearance and its cement grinding unit that uses fly ash for blending is covered by the notification of 1994.

Disposing of a PIL filed by Him Privesh Environment Protection Society challenging the setting up of a cement plant without any public hearing and 325 bighas of village lands being wrongly transferred by the state to the company, the HC held the company guilty of making false statements to obtain environmental clearances and of projecting the plants cost at less than R100 crore while investing over R400 crore, to circumvent the law.

The HC had directed the company to dismantle its 60 mw captive thermal plant within three months time as same was commissioned without valid environmental clearances and construction was carried out even after the consent was withdrawn. Even JAL review plea was dismissed by the HC.