Jindal SAW Ltd has been slapped with a fine of Rs 1 crore by the National Green Tribunal for its "reprehensible" conduct of starting construction prior to grant of environmental clearance for expansion of its iron pipe manufacturing unit in Gujarat's Kutch district.
A NGT bench headed by Justice V R Kingaonkar imposed the heavy fine on Jindal Group's flagship company, saying such "tendency" has to be dealt with "stern hands".
"The project proponent (Jindal SAW) overstepped the limitation imposed by the Environmental Clearance Regulations by starting with the construction before grant of environmental clearance (EC).
"The conduct of the project proponent is, therefore, reprehensible. The tendency to proceed with the project activity in spite of absence of the EC order has to be dealt with stern hand," the bench, also comprising Justice U D Salvi, said.
"In view of the matter, we are of the opinion that the project proponent shall be directed to deposit Rs 1 crore with this Tribunal which may be remitted to Environment Relief Fund," it said. The tribunal imposed the heavy fine on the company while rejecting the plea, filed by residents of village Samagogha in Kutch district, challenging the EC granted to Jindal SAW for expansion of its project.
While disposing of the plea, the NGT directed the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board to monitor every six months the level and total dissolved solids (TDS) content of ground water in the project premises and to take necessary steps to check them before they reach dangerous levels."
The villagers had challenged the EC granted in 2009 to Jindal SAW for expansion of its project on several grounds, including that construction of the project was started prior to the grant of EC and that it was given without holding a proper public hearing.
The villagers had also contended that the Environment Impact Assessment Report regarding the project was not scrutinised or supplied to them in the vernacular language and that area in which they live and make their living is going to be affected seriously as a result of the expansion.