The Electrotherm (India) Ltd has approached Supreme Court challenging Gujarat High Court's recent order to shut down its steel and pipe manufacturing plant in Bhachau block of Kutch district.
Last week the Gujarat High Court had ordered shut down of the plant with 360,000 TPA capacity for producing structural steel, alloy steel and stainless steel, for lack of proper environment clearance mandatory under Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006. "We have approached the Supreme Court against the High Court order," Electrotherm joint managing director Avinash Bhandari said. "We have challenged the HC order to shut down the steel plant in Kutch," he said.
On May 11, a Gujarat High court division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had held that the environmental clearance given for the plant was illegal as there was no public consultation before it was set up. The Court cancelled the environment clearance granted in January 2010 and asked the company to shut down production in the plant with immediate effect.
The court had given 10-day time to the company to close down its steel, engineering, DI pipe and electric vehicles plant at Kutch. The court was acting on a petition filed by Kutch-based RTI activist Vipulkumar Patel in 2010, who had alleged that the power plant was being operated without proper environmental clearance.
According to case details, Electrotherm had applied for environment clearance, while it was expanding capacity of the unit. It got the clearance, but without holding a public hearing. It was argued on part of the petitioner that the 2009 amendment in EIA Notification made it compulsory for a company to have clearance with public hearing, if production capacity is increased by 50 per cent. But in this case, the capacity was increased three times.
Besides, the company had obtained environment clearance for expansion; but it turned out the they did not have clearance for the main project. This led the court to hold that the environment clearance accorded by the company was illegal and it cannot continue with production.