SC asks NGT to hear pleas on port planned by Adani

SC asks NGT to hear pleas on port planned by Adani
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to resume hearing on pleas seeking withdrawal of environment clearance granted to the Vizhinjam Port Project, developed by the Adani Group near Kovalam in Kerala.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi lifted its stay on the proceedings before the green panel and asked it to hear the cases and dispose them within six weeks.

The court, which had in January 2015 stayed the proceedings before the NGT and kept the pleas pending before it, modified its order. It also made it clear that there would neither be “any adjournments” nor would the panel pass interim orders till it finally decides the matters.

Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) and the Kerala government approached the apex court against the NGT’s direction, raising question marks over the Centre’s notification on development on the port.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the company, submitted that the issue has been hanging fire for last six years though the Adani group has earned the reputation of successfully developing seven other ports in the country.

He also contended that there was also question of jurisdiction between the Chennai bench and Delhi's principal bench of the NGT.

“Let all these issues be thrashed out at the NGT. Let the final view be taken,” the bench said, clarifying there would be no stay on the development of port in the meantime. Dealing with a host of legal questions, the NGT had rejected the contention challenging its power and held it has all the trappings of a “court” as the distinction between a court and a tribunal was getting thinner day by day.

The tribunal’s order had come on two sets of petitions filed before the NGT, demanding withdrawal of environmental clearance given to the Vizhinjam Port Project and the second one challenging the 2011 coastal regulation zone notification.

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