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Gujarat High Court stays construction work on part of Adanis' Mundra SEZ - 2012-05-14

The Gujarat High Court has stayed ongoing construction work at the Adani Port and SEZ Ltd in Kutch district on environmental issues, as well as development activity in a 7,000-hectare area near Mundra. On Wednesday, a Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar bhattacharya and Mr Justice J B Pardiwala stayed construction work being carried out by Alstom Bharat Forge Power Ltd within the SEZ, near Navinal village. It observed that APSEZ did not have proper environmental clearances nor had developed infrastructure and, therefore, it was not competent to lease out plots to industrial units.

Farmers of Navinal, who questioned allocation of ‘gochar' (grazing) land for industrial purposes, had filed a PIL in this regard. The Adanis had acquired 18,000 hectares of land, including that in 14 villages, for the SEZ. An Adani Group spokesman, commenting on the stay, said the court order states that Alstom Bharat individually does not require any environmental clearance, but it cannot also construct until the Mundra SEZ receives environmental clearance. “This has no impact on the ongoing port operations and port development activities at Mundra for which the company has requisite environmental clearance.” On Thursday, the same Bench, in another PIL filed by a lawyer, Mr Hashim Qureshi, also halted construction activity, although conditionally, until July 22, on a 7,000-hectare area of the SEZ, in the absence of environmental clearance. The petitioner had challenged the alleged allotment of this land in one go, on the same date (July 15, 2005) by the Kutch district collector who issued as many as 26 orders on the same day in this regard.

He contended that the Adanis failed to complete construction work in the stipulated two-year timeframe and despite extension and warning had failed to take back the land. The court also asked the State Government to take a decision on the company's reply within three weeks.

Source : Hindu Business Line