New Delhi: The Environment and Forests Ministry has withdrawn its permission for the construction of a power project in Chhattisgarh by a company headed by Lok Sabha Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
According to a June-18 letter of the ministry, Jindal Power Ltd. started construction of a 2,400 MW-power plant in Chhatisgarh “without obtaining prior environmental clearance”.
The power plant had faced trouble earlier too. In February 2010, the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board found construction going on at the plant site without permission and asked the company to stop work immediately.
Environment activist Ramesh Aggarwal claims the Environment Ministry found irregularities at the plant site when he complained to them and now he is being harassed as a result.
“I had complained to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh about them, following which they (the Ministry) sent an inspection team and found that construction was going on,” Aggarwal.
Aggarwal alleges that after he complained to the Environment Ministry the police filed an extortion case against him on the basis of a complaint filed by Jindal Power. Chhattisgarh Police confirm the company had filed complaint against Aggarwal.
“Jindal Company came to us and said that Aggarwal had asked for Rs 5 crore from them. They have given five witnesses as well, based on which we issued an FIR,” said Rahul Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Raigarh.
It is unclear why Aggarwal was charged with extortion only after only after the company’s terms of reference (TOR) was cancelled by the Environment Ministry. It is also not known how Jindal Power began constructing the plant without the requisite environment clearance or conducting a public hearing.
Jindal, executive vice-chairman of the company refused to comment, but his company representative said the construction of the plant has been halted on the objection of NGOs.
“The TOR has been withdrawn and we have changed the location of our project. Some NGOs thought that the construction has been started for the new 4x600 MW power plant and they objected to it. On their objection we had stopped construction activities long back,” said the company official.