The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has granted forest clearance to OPG Power Gujarats 300-MW Bhadreshwar thermal power plant at Mundra and construction work can continue,the company which was accused of violating green norms contended before the National Green Tribunal on Monday.
The company also contended that the plea seeking direction to OPG not to start work without all requisite prior permissions on the project stands infructuous with the grant of forest clearance on April 26.
OPG made the submissions in response to a plea alleging violation of the February 8 order of the Tribunal to stop construction work on the 2×150 MW thermal power plant at village Bhadreshwar in Mundra of Kutch district.
The Tribunal,however,did not pass an order today as the counsel for the appellant was not present in the court and the bench said we would like to pass an order in his presence.
OPG told the court that the Ministry of Environment and Forest has granted forest clearance to it on April 26 and now we are allowed to construct the project.
A joint inspection team of state and central agencies had on April 18 pulled up the company for beginning constructions before getting all necessary clearances.
Earlier,on April 27,the Tribunal had directed Gujarat authorities to decide as expeditiously as possible the plea of OPG for approval of modification and technical changes in their 300 MW Bhadreshwar thermal power plant at Mundra.
OPG had told the Tribunal that it was working on an alternative plan for use of air cooling system instead of sea water,which will not require permissions under the Forest (Conservation) Act or clearance under CRZ Regulation.
OPG had moved a separate plea before the Tribunal saying that its application for approval of its proposed modification in the project plan was pending before the authorities and delay in deciding it could cause prejudice and loss to the project proponent.
Earlier,on a plea by a project-hit Gujarat native,the Tribunal had ordered the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to visit the project site and file a report on alleged violation of conditions on which environmental clearance was accorded to OPG on June 11,2010.
In its report submitted on April 18,the SEIAAA had told the Tribunal that OPG was violating the conditions on which the environment clearance was given to it for its power plant.
SEIAA had said OPG has begun construction work on project before grant of forest clearance and CRZ clearance which was in violation of the conditions of the June 11,2010 clearance,which had stipulated that the company shall not start work without all requisite prior permissions.
The committee had also recommended that the government of Gujarat may probe the alleged encroachment of land on Khari river side to determine the boundaries of the project site.
The Tribunal had in its February 8 order held that in case of any deviation from the original project plan,OPG shall apply to concerned authorities who shall consider it strictly in consonance with law and dispose of the same as expeditiously as possible,but not later than four months.