The Supreme Court has sought response from the Centre on an appeal challenging a National Green Tribunal order that dismissed a plea against grant of environmental clearance (EC) for a limestone mining project of UltraTech Cement in Bhavnagar district in Gujarat.
A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, UltraTech Cement, Uncha Kotda Gram Panchayat and others. "Issue notice. Counter affidavit be filed within a period of four weeks. Rejoinder affidavit, if any, be filed within a period of four weeks thereafter. List the Civil Appeal after eight weeks," the bench said.
The NGT had on September 24, 2020 dismissed the plea filed by the petitioners noting that the project proponent has explained with reference to the documents that the public notice was duly issued through the concerned statutory authorities and the Panchayats in the area supported the project.
As regards fresh public hearing after revising of the Mining Plan, the Expert Appraisal Committee held that such fresh public hearing was not required as themining area was reduced by less than 5 per cent and concerns of all the stakeholders had already been duly addressed, the NGT had noted.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioner, told the top court that the order of the National Green Tribunal demonstrates that there was no independent application of mind or reasoning in regard to the objections which were raised by the appellants to the grant of the environment clearance certificate.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Gabhabhai Devabhai Chauhan and others against grant of EC by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the project "Limestone Mine" of M/s UltraTech Cement with production capacity of 2.074 million tonnes per annum located at Villages-Kalsar, Dayal & Kotda, in Bhavnagar.
The petitioners claim to be residents of the three villages where limestone mining will be undertaken. According to the petitioners, the grant of EC was mechanical, without a meaningful public hearing and ignoring several vital aspects.