The Supreme court has asked the Maharashtra government to respond to a plea against its environmental clearance to the Hiranandani group’s Hindustan Electricity Generation Co Pvt Ltd (HEGCPL) for its 355 MW gas-based power project at Maval in Pune.
A Bench of Mr Justice Aftab Alam and Mr Justice Chandramauli K Prasad issued notices to the state government and others, asking them to file their replies within two weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on 26 April.
The Bench order came on a plea by Navlakh Umbre Paryavaran Parisar Vikas Sangh, a group formed by the project-hit people of Navlakh Umbre and other adjacent villages, challenging the Bombay High Court order to the state government to grant environmental clearance for the project. The petition said while giving clearance for the project, the social and environmental concerns were not addressed by the state. While issuing notice to the state government, the apex court also said its 1 March order for keeping in “abeyance” the clearances given by the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) of the Maharashtra government to the power project would continue. “Interim order dated 1 March, 2012 to continue in the meanwhile,” the bench said.
The Bombay High Court had earlier directed the SEIAA to grant clearance to the project after the firm had approached it saying that it had withdrawn its plans to expand its project, which is now limited to 355 MW only, and the state can give clearance for it.
The firm had sought high court’s directions for environment clearances for the power project from the state government, pointing out that as per a Central government’s circular, the latter’s clearance was required only for projects with capacity of 500 MW or above. The court had asked the state government to grant clearance for the project agreeing with the firm’s contention. The High Court said after the withdrawal of the expansion proposal by the firm, the Central government circular ceased to have any effect upon the company’s project which was now limited to 355 MW and the state authorities could consider the same. The Sangh, in its plea to the apex court, had said its various social and environmental concerns and those of the residents of the affected villages and various other procedural and legal objections in processing of the firm’s request were given a go-by by the authority while adjudicating the same.