A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking cancellation of lease and environmental clearance granted to Ambuja Cement Ltd for mining in Verval region of Junagadh district has been filed in the Gujarat Hgih court. The PIL also seeks stay on mining activities of the company while the case was pending with the court.
The petitioner Paryavaran Bachav Samiti (PBS) has also alleged that the cement company had indulging in theft of minerals worth over Rs 5 crore from government owned land and sought penal actions against Ambjua Cement Ltd under the India Penal Code (IPC). Hearing the PIL last week a division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala have issued notices to the Union Minister of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the Gujarat government. They have asked both to their respective affidavits with regard to the allegations made by the petitioner by September 27, when the next hearing is scheduled.
The PIL filed by an NGO based in Veraval, Junagadh, has claimed that Ambuja Cement Limited was involved in repeated theft of minerals estimated at over Rs 5 crores. Despite this no offence has been registered against the company, he said.
It has further claimed that it has obtained documents under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the state government officials which would make it clear "that the officers and directors of Ambuja Cement Limited are habitual offender and in spite of commission of offences by them, under Section 379, 380 of the Indian Penal Code and also under the Mines and Minerals (Regulations and Development) Act, no criminal complaint is filed against them." The PIL has sought directions for the MoEF and the state government to cancel or recall the environmental clearance and mining lease, respectively, granted to the cement company. It has also sought direction for the state government to register criminal complaint against the company under section 378 and 379 (related to theft) of IPC for violating mining rules and alleged theft in form of minerals from government land.