Firm fined Rs.100 crore in Himachal, files review petition

June 1st, 2012 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, June 1 (IANS) Just about a month after the Himachal Pradesh High Court directed a private firm to dismantle a thermal power plant in Solan district over green concerns, the company Friday told the court that the project machinery had never been established.

In a review petition placed before the division bench, comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol, infrastructure conglomerate Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) contended that it didn’t install any plant or machinery in the partially constructed civil structure built by it to house the captive thermal power plant (CTTP).

The court, meanwhile, adjourned the hearing to June 15.

In the absence of any plant or machinery, the CTTP has never functioned from its very inception till date and it remains to be a civil structure alone, said the petition.

The high court May 4 observed: “As far as the thermal plant is concerned we find no extenuating circumstances to permit the thermal plant to continue. We accordingly quash the environmental clearance in respect of the thermal plant and direct JAL to dismantle it within three months.”

The company petitioned that in the absence of any machinery or equipment having been installed therein, “the same is incapable of being dismantled”.

“The process of transfer of the plant and machinery brought on the site for the CTPP had already started in November 2011 onwards, since the environment clearance was granted by the ministry of environment and forests only for a 10 MW plant, which was inadequate and was not as per the proposal and requirements (of the company),” said the petition.

The green bench of the high court in its judgment against the cement plant, which existed along with the thermal plant, also imposed a penalty of Rs.100 crore on JAL as environmental damage cost for violation of the norms.

“While assessing the damages, we are also taking into consideration the fact that the damages should not bring the company to a halt but at the same time the company should feel the pinch of damages,” said the court.

“The damages shall be used only for improving the ecology and environment of the area and to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the area,” the court added.

The company, pleading with the court to recall its order relating to payment of costs imposed on it, said: “Damages have been imposed without granting the petitioner any opportunity before imposition of such heavy damages… the cost of the damage is too harsh, punitive and unbearable and it shall amount to virtually closing down of the industry, which is already suffering from recession.”

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