Rs. 100 Crore Fine for False Environment Assesment

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SIMLA: It has reported that the green bench of the Himachal Pradesh high court slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on Jaiprakash Associates on Friday for setting up a cement plant fraudulently. The court quashed the environmental clearance granted to the company’s thermal plant and directed that it be dismantled within three months. It also called for a special investigation team to be set up to see if state officials were involved.

Disposing of a PIL and a civil writ petition challenging the setting up of a cement plant in Solan, the court held the company guilty of making false statements to obtain environmental clearances and of projecting the plant’s cost at less than Rs 100 crore while investing over Rs 400 crore, to circumvent the law.

The green bench of the Himachal Pradesh high court said the “illegal endeavour” could not have succeeded without the connivance of government officials.

The bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karol ordered that a three-member SIT be set up under K C Sadyal, additional director general of the Vigilance Bureau, to investigate and identify public servants who had connived with and helped Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) and those who were negligent. The SIT has been asked to identify whether any official, directly or indirectly, received undue benefits from JAL or its associates.

Petitioners Him Privesh Environment Protection Society and panchayat members in Solan had alleged the JAL cement plant came up without any public hearing and 325 bighas of village lands were wrongly transferred by the state to the company.

Directing the SIT to submit its report by December 31, the court asked it to recommend criminal or disciplinary action against erring officials.

(Times of India, May 5, 2012,)

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