In an effort to control frivolous litigation, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on a person who first challenged the environmental clearance granted to a thermal power plant in Madhya Pradesh but later withdrew his plea saying the project was good for development of the region.
An NGT bench headed by Justice A S Naidu imposed the fine on Baijnath Prajapati on January 20, a resident of Anuppur district in Madhya Pradesh. He had moved the tribunal on September 15, 2011, challenging the environmental clearance granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to Moser Baer Power Madhya Pradesh Limited (MBPMPL) for a coal-based thermal power plant.
“The appellant has dragged the project proponent (MBPMPL), the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Madhya Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and the forest department of Madhya Pradesh into litigation in a dismissive manner amounting to abuse of the tribunal process,” the bench noted. It further noted that it cannot stop the appellant from withdrawing the case.
The NGT had on September 27, 2011 issued notices to MoEF, MBPMPL and the concerned government departments on Prajapati’s plea but on January 13 he filed an application seeking withdrawal of his petition.
“We fail to understand as to what transpired between then and now, which led the appellant to realise and hold that the project was required for the development of the region. Neither is there any averment with regard to change of circumstances nor any reason is being indicated that changed his mind,” the bench said.
A MPPCB officer who refused to be named, says there have been agitations in the past in Annupur district due to water scarcity. During summers, industries have to shut down for two months. “It might be possible that Prajapati has taken money and withdrawn his appeal,” he adds.
Kishore Bharadwaj, corporate head of environment health and safety unit at MBPMPL, says that Prajapati had issues with the rain season data of the Environment Impact Assessment of the project that’s why he approached NGT.