Gujarat HC seeks green compliance report on Adani Port

Gujarat HC seeks green compliance report on Adani Port

The high court's direction has come in response to a petition filed by a group of local fishermen seeking compliance report on record.

While giving one last chance to Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to file its reply along with site inspection report on steps taken by Adani Port and SEZ Ltd (APSEZ) at Mundra port in Kutch district as the company had been directed back in 2015 following complaints of "ecological imbalance" caused due to its activities.

The high court's direction has come in response to a petition filed by a group of local fishermen seeking compliance report on record. The court's order, passed on August 22, quoting the petitioner's prayers states that "although the directions were issued way ­back in the year 2015, yet those have not been complied with in its letter and spirit and even if some of those directions have been complied with as asserted by the respondent no.6 (APSEZ), there is no material or any report placed in that regard on record. Prima facie, it appears that the writ­ applicants want the respondents to clarify and make the picture clear whether the directions have been complied with or not."

Refusing to hear that petition is not maintainable, the court of Justice J B Pardiwala and justice A C Rao said: "We would like to know from the Union of India as regards the follow ­up steps or action taken by the concerned department to ensure whether the directions have been complied with or not."

Some of the directions issued to the Adani Group's APSEZ by Union government in 2015 stated, "Bocha Island, ecologically sensitive geomorphological features and areas in the Island and creeks around the Island will be declared as a conservation zone and action plan for its conservation must be prepared. M/s. APSEZ should provide necessary financial assistance for this purpose... APSEZ  will submit a specific action plan to protect the livelihood of fishermen along with budget... APSEZ will voluntarily return the grazing land, if any, in their possession."  

The other directions were, "A regional strategic impact assessment report with a special focus on Mundra region... In the subject matter of thermal power plant, the proposed regional strategic impact assessment analysis will take into account salinity aspect along with its potential environmental impact to suggest future corrective actions as well as the guiding tool on extension and addition of the capacities." 

The direction also stated, "A comprehensive and integrated conservation plan including detailed bathymetry study and protection of creeks/mangrove area including buffer zone, mapping of co­ordinates, running length, HTL, CRZ boundary will be put in place. The plan will take note of all the conditions of approvals granted to all the project proponents in this area e.g. the reported case of the disappearance of mangroves near Navinal creek. The preservation of the entire area to maintain the fragile ecological condition will be a part of the plan in relation to the creeks, mangrove conservation and conservation of Bocha Island up to Baradimata and others."      

The high court has ordered that compliance report on these directions should be produced and handed over to the litigants by September 13. During the hearing, APSEZ lawyers told the court that the company has complied with the directions and has already supplied the reports to the Union government.

Advocate Parth Bhatt, who appears for Union government, informed the court that he is yet to file a reply along with the necessary inspection report. He said that there are various agencies involved which will have to undertake a fresh survey or inspection for the purpose of clarifying whether directions have been complied with or not. Bhatt assured the court that a fresh site inspection report will be submitted in the court by the next hearing.