Pulling up the Centre for not completing the process of environment clearance to the Adani Group’s Mundra Ports and Special Economic Zone (MPSEZ) in Gujarat, the Supreme Court on Monday gave last chance to the MoEF to do so and also made the secretary and the director “personally responsible” for any further delay.
A green bench headed by Justice JS Khehar while observing that “we are going to make somebody liable for the delay” said that it had earlier on May 2 asked the ministry to complete the process of environment clearance within eight weeks and the same expired a fortnight ago. “But it has not yet completed the process of granting final clearance... We consider it appropriate to grant one final opportunity to complete the process of environmental clearance within eight weeks from now. We would consider it appropriate that the Secretary, MoEF, to oversee the process and he will be duly assisted by the director, MoEF... They shall be personally responsible for any further delay...” the court stated in its order.
The apex court had earlier allowed 12 manufacturing units operating out of the Gautam Adani-controlled SEZ to continue their operations, but barred any further construction activity on the R56,000-crore SEZ. It had also directed MoEF to comply with the direction of the Gujarat High Court to consider the grant of environmental clearance to SEZ, one of the largest multi-product special economic zones in the country.
While closing several manufacturing units over lack of environmental clearance, the HC said that the MPSEZ had violated environment norms by allotting land to individual units without the mandatory environment clearance required under the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006.
The units whose operations were affected had moved the SC arguing that the high court's direction was contrary to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, which had granted deemed environmental clearance to the SEZ.