New Delhi: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the controversial cement plant of Nirma Industries in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat is situated in an environmentally sensitive wetland area and has to be relocated.
The MoEF told the apex court through an affidavit that the plant was constructed in Azone, which is the source of a sweet water body.
The MoEF further submitted that it has accepted the report of an expert committee which said that the cement plant was in an environmentally sensitive area and construction would have to stop.
Following the representation, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia adjourned the matter to Friday, giving the option to Nirma to challenge the MoEF order before it or the Green Tribunal.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Nirma Industries, challenging the stop-work notice issued by the MoEF after environmentalists raised concerns.
Earlier the apex court had ordered a fresh environmental study of the area where chemicals maker Nirma is setting up a cement plant that is believed to be on wetlands in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
The bench had directed the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MoEF to study whether the plant was in the wetland area or water bodies.
The apex court had directed the committee to seek reports from a body of experts with five scientists and should visit the site.
The court asked the expert body to give a hearing to all parties, including Nirma and the residents near the site, and ascertain its impact in terms of environment degradation.
Before approaching the apex court, Nirma had moved the Gujarat High Court, but could not get any relief.
The government had earlier given environmental clearances to Nirma, which was allotted 268 hectares for setting up the cement plant and over 3,000 hectares for mining in the surrounding area near the coastline in Bhavnagar district.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Nirma, had contended that the company was working for the past three years on the project based on previous clearances. He said the trouble has started as some local politicians are creating problems.
Dave further said the group has already invested Rs 150 crore on the project and is committed to pumping in another Rs 450 crore.