Sunday, December 23, 2007

HC awaits govt reply on Jaigad power plant

Business Standard
Monday,Dec 24,2007

HC awaits govt reply on Jaigad power plant
Press Trust Of India / Mumbai December 24, 2007

The Bombay High Court has reminded the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Centre to file replies on the PIL opposing the OP Jindal group’s coal-based power plant in Jaigad in Ratnagiri district.

The 1,200-Mw power project is facing opposition despite getting clearances from both the MPCB and the environment and forest ministry. Fly-ash generated by the plant will ruin the horticulture in the area, it is feared.

The high court is currently hearing a PIL filed by the Ratnagiri Jilla Jagruk Manch (RJJM). “On the last three occasions, MPCB and the environment and forest ministry were given time to file their replies. They haven’t so far,” said advocate VA Gangal, petitioners’ lawyer.

Recently, when the matter came up before the division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice JP Deodhar, nobody from the MPCB’s side was present. Annoyed, the court had to postpone the hearing till January 16.

When the PIL was filed last year, the high court had appointed an expert committee to look into the issue. The committee asked the JSW Energy Ltd, the Jindal Group company that is setting up the plant near the port-town of Jaigad, to make a revised environmental impact management report.

The petitioners, however, say that this revised report must be cleared by MPCB and the ministry, but there is no reply from their side yet.

The area around Jaigad has large-scale cultivation of Alphanso mangoes, cashewnuts, coconuts, etc. The PIL claims that the thermal power plant will play havoc with the Rs 3,000-crore economy of the region.

Vivek Bhide, RJJM’s president, alleged that apart from the horticulture, marine life off Jaigad coast too will suffer because of the project. JSW is building a jetty near the old port. Bhide alleges that there are corals in the surrounding sea, which the jetty building operation can destroy.

However, JSW’s lawyer said in the high court that the company did not violate any law, and it had all the required permissions right from the beginning.

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