LANDMARK JUDGEMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE IN THE COUNTRY: HIM PARIVESH
Shimla, May 5, 2012: Him Parivesh Environment Protection Society, one of the petitioners in the writ petition against Jaiprakash Associates Limited which led to the historical judgement passed by the Green Bench on 4th May 2012, organised a press conference today at Nalagarh. Striking a blow to the Jai Prakash Associates Limited (JAL), the bench of High Court of Himachal Pradesh, comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol passed a 94 page landmark judgement ordering payment of Rs. 100 Crores as damages and dismantling of the what would have been Himachal's first thermal power plant being set up in the Nalagarh area of the Solan District.
Upholding almost all the arguments put forth by petitioner Himparivesh, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh found JP Assosiates guilty of a variety of lapses, including misleading the authorities on various occasions to obtain clearances. Himparivesh had filed the petition after it came to know that JAL had completed construction on a cement plant and had been constructing a thermal power plant without the mandatory environmental clearance. The cement and the thermal plant had been granted environmental clearance by the MoEF in the year 2010 despite protests by the local community at the public hearings.
Addressing the media Jagjit Singh Dukhia, from Himparivesh, said "This judgement would prove to people that big corporations and government officials cannot hoodwink the public and encroach upon peoples' rights forever and would come as a shot in the arm of activists fighting such injustices across the country."
Himparivesh hailed the observations of the High Court on the State Pollution Control Board's role in facilitating the construction of an illegal plant. "We have been highlighting the pathetic state of affairs in the Board for long in the BBN industrial area, which almost made it to CPCB’s 2009 list of the most critically polluted areas in the country". The general secretary of the society, Balkrishan Sharma, said. "We will continue to fight against hazardous industries like Thermal, Cement, Pharma and the High Court order in the Jaypee case will further strengthen our efforts to rein in the regulatory bodies which are failing to do their job" he added.
The High Court has made it clear that it would not hesitate to close down the cement unit if non-compliance to the conditions laid down by the EAC while granting environmental clearance is found. "We have already initiated a community environment monitoring exercise and are looking at the Air and dust pollution by the plant. The first sampling exercise conducted has already shown that the dust levels are way above the prescribed limits." added Shweta Narayan of Community Environment Monitoring Cell, Chennai who has been helping Him Parivesh with monitoring the pollution in the area.
Rahul Saxena, member of Him Dhara, an Environment Action group, who has been providing technical and research support to Him Parivesh added, "This is a landmark order for environment justice in the country and would give momentum to people's fight against pollution and lack of enforcement of environmental laws in the Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh Industrial area."
For More Details Contact:
Balkrishna Sharma, Him Parivesh, 9459028044
Rahul Saxena, Him Dhara, Environment Research and Action Collective, 9816025246
About the Judgement:
Some of the findings of the Court:
(i) That JAL is guilty of making false statements for obtaining environmental clearances for all its Projects.
(ii) That JAL wrongly projected that the Project cost of the cement plant was less than Rs.100 crores.
(iii)That the draft EIA report prepared in the year 2007 in respect of Thermal Plant is absolutely a sham report.
(iv) That the draft EIA report prepared in the year 2009 is also based on a wrong data
(v)That the MoEF EAC has glossed over various issues and has totally ignored the concerns of the public especially with regard to the Thermal Plant
The complete judgement can be found at the HP High Court website: http://hphighcourt.nic.in/inetjudord/judgements/CWP5862010.pdf