The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Monday quashed forest clearance given by the environment ministry to the Parsa East and Kante-Basan (PERB) captive coal blocks in Hasdeo Arand forests of Chhattisgarh.
The clearance granted in 2011 and a subsequent order by the state government had led to diversion of around 1900 hectare of forest land for purpose of mining of coal.
The clearance related to two blocks for mining by a joint venture between Adani and Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited. The coal mine was slated to produce 15 million tonnes of coal every year.
While suspending all the work on the site till a fresh clearance is obtained, the NGT asked the environment ministry to seek a fresh opinion from the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) on all pertinent factors. The tribunal, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, held that the 2011 order by the minister of state in the ministry, overruling the opinion by the Forest Advisory Committee against grant of clearance, could not sustain in law and had to be set aside.
The NGT noted that the minister was “largely overtaken by the anthropocentric reasons” and chose to ignore relevant eco-centric issues while rejecting the FACs advice on his “understanding and belief” that the tribunal said, had no basis either in any authoritative study or experience in the relevant fields.
It also underlined that the FAC had also failed to examine all aspects relating to flora and fauna of the area concerned and components like providing safe corridors for wildlife, especially near human settlements and coal mines, had been over looked.
“It is evident that the FAC did not examine all the relevant facts and circumstances while rendering its advice and to cap it, the minister acted arbitrarily and rejected the FACs advice for the reasons having no basis either in any authoritative study or experience in the relevant fields. In short the reasons adduced by the minister fail to outweigh the advice rendered,” the tribunal said.