The National Green Tribunal has imposed a hefty fine of Rs 25 crore on Gautam Adani owned Adani-Hazira Port Pvt Ltd (AHPPL) and its associate Hajira Infrastructure Pvt Ltd for starting work at their Hazira-based port near Surat without obtaining environment clearance.
The Pune-based Western Zone bench of the NGT comprising Justice VR Kingaonkar and Dr Ajay Deshpande also termed the environment clearance (EC), granted by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), in 2013 for further development of the port at Hazira as illegal.
“The appeal is allowed and impugned EC is set aside. AHPPL and HIPL shall be made liable to pay amount of Rs 25 crore, as an amount of penalty for restoration as well as shall be restrained from closing/narrowing down mouth of the creek or narrowing down access of the boats of traditional fishermen,” news agency PTI quoted the order.
The order was passed on 8 January.
The bench directed the companies to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Surat collector within four weeks.
The NGT also said, “In case of non-compliance of the above directions (to pay penalty), work carried out for reclamation in the area of 25 hectares, around circle of the creek, shall be demolished by the collector and the land be restored.
This order is being viewed as a huge setback for the billionaire businessman from Gujarat believed to the best friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It also illustrates how people close to powerful politicians in India tend to flout established rules with so frequency.