Environment

NGT shuts down Chinese steel plant in Gujarat

The Rs 6,000-cr project was being constructed in Gujarat’s Mundra block without an environmental clearance

 
By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Tuesday 26 November 2019
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at the foundation stone laying day of the steel plant to be set-up by Chromeni Steels Pvt Ltd, on·January 23, 2018
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at the foundation stone laying day of the steel plant to be set-up by Chromeni Steels Pvt Ltd, on·January 23, 2018 Photo: CMO Gujarat @CMOGuj / Twitter Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at the foundation stone laying day of the steel plant to be set-up by Chromeni Steels Pvt Ltd, on·January 23, 2018 Photo: CMO Gujarat @CMOGuj / Twitter

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on November 21 ordered Chinese giant Chromeni Steels to stop all activities in its steel plant in Gujarat’s Mundra block in Kutchh district. The Rs 6,000-cr project was being constructed without an environmental clearance (EC), observed the tribunal while hearing a petition filed by environment activist Gajendra Singh Jadeja.

“Considering the fact that EC is necessary (under Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006), which was also our prima facie view held earlier, we direct the respondent industry to stop its activities until clarification is received from the MoEFCC (The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change),” the tribunal ordered in its order.

“We had approached all the authorities to take action against the project that was started without clearances. Even though government notices were issues, construction work continued unabated. How can a project that has a production capacity of 700,000 tonnes of steel production function without getting an EC?” said Jadeja.

Not only was the project commissioned, it received incentives under Gujarat’s Ultra Mega and Mega Scheme in March, according to media reports.      

“The company has started its production even without consent to operate from the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board and in this regard many complaints have been filed but the Pollution Control Board took no action to stop the unit going from construction and production,” Sankar Pani, Jadeja’s advocate said, adding that the project was allowed to construct without taking permission from conversion to Non-Agricultural purpose and given a post-facto permission in July 2019.

“After the project got the consent on January 20, 2018, the foundation was laid by the Gujarat chief minister along with other ministers on January 23. So, maybe the authorities didn’t take any action because of political pressure,” Jadeja says.

The next hearing of the case is on January 14, 2020.

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