The tussle between Ahmedabad-based Nirma group and union environment ministry got tighter today as the ministry took strong exception to Nirma refusing to abide by its order.
The ministry warned Nirma group that it its refusal to honor the ‘stop work’ notice given by it would be counted as a ‘dereliction’ and would be counted against it when the time came to decide the matter.
Nirma group Vice President V N Desai had said that he was disregarding the order to stop work on Nirma’s new cement plant in Bhavnagar in Gujarat.
In his letter three days ago, Desai accused the ministry of venturing into a territory where it had no jurisdiction.
He termed the letter “completely without jurisdiction or authority of law including in violation of the principle of natural justice” since the matter was being heard by the Supreme Court.
Desai pointed out that the Supreme Court had refused to give any stay on the work despite repeated requests and the Government had no right to intervene with such an order.
“It [order] cannot bind us at this stage,” he said.
The plant ran into trouble despite getting an environmental clearance in 2008 after locals took their case to the government. A fact finding committee later found that the environmental clearance was obtained after withholding crucial information about the project’s impact on the local wetlands.
Wetlands are seen as crucial for maintaining water table and for the survival of aquatic fauna and flora.
The ministry recently notified the Wetlands Conservation and Management rules to protect wetlands. “This is the first time that legally enforceable rules are being notified for such eco-sensitive areas in our country and will go a long way in protecting our wetlands which are under severe threat,” the ministry had said in December when it notified the rules.