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HC slaps Rs 100 cr penalty on JP group

05 May 2012

Ashwani Sharma
The Financial Express

Shimla In a landmark decision the Himachal Pradesh High Courtís green bench on Friday imposed a penalty of Rs 100 crore on Jaiprakash Associates (JAL) for committing serious environmental violations, defrauding government agencies by adopting fraudulent means to set-up its cement plant and also a thermal power plant ignoring local protests.

The court 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was commissioned without valid environmental clearances and construction was carried out even after the consent was withdrawn.

The bench also ordered setting up a multi-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the role of officials who allowed the company to commit the irregularities. To obtain environment clearance, the company fraudulently claimed costs of the plant to be less than Rs 100 crore, where as actually having invested between Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore setting up the cement plant.

"When the cement plant was cleared by the states single window clearance authority, for a project with less than Rs 100 crore investment did not require to obtain any clearances from ministry of environment and forests," the order read.

Petitioners Him Privesh Enviorment Protection Society and panchayat representatives of the area had alleged that the cement plant had been set up in total violation of environment laws, no proper public hearing was conducted and 325 bighas of village common lands had been wrongly transferred by the state in favour of the company.

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