A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Monday held that around 20-22 units at Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) were functioning illegally without any environmental clearance (EC).
The court ordered the Central government to decide on granting EC to the SEZ afresh within one month while taking in mind the latest judgment of the high court. With this, the court also ordered closure of all the units inside APSEZ.
A division bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala, passed a judgment in this regard while acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by some residents of Navi Nal village that falls under the SEZ.
According to the petitioners’ counsel, Anand Yagnik, the SEZ has not been granted EC by the Central government and yet the units were not only constructed, but had also started functioning there.
In 2012, local villagers had moved a PIL against the SEZ, following which a division bench of the high court had ordered to close those units. “However, those units continued functioning there, following which we had moved a fresh PIL in 2013. We sought to stop any activity within the SEZ and also demanded to demolish the 20-22 units. We had also sought punitive action against government officers who were responsible for non-implementation of the 2012 HC order under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act,” said Yagnik.
He further said that acting on the latest PIL, the bench has ordered to stop all the activities within the APSEZ. He also added that the court also asked the Central government to reconsider the subject of granting EC to the SEZ afresh and within one month.
“The court has also observed that neither the SEZ authorities nor the units inside it can take a defence that if the Central Government did not take any decision on their application for EC within a mandatory period, then it gets a deemed EC as they had not followed the earlier 2012 HC order.”
Yagnik said that the court has not ordered any punitive action against the units which were functional inside the SEZ or against the Central government officials for not implementing the 2012 order.