Getting tough on violations of environment laws, a green bench of HP High Court on Friday imposed Rs 100 crore damages on Jaiprakash Associates (JAL) for having set up a whole cement plant by adopting fraudulent means but also cancelled permissions for a 62 MW captive thermal plant and directed that it be dismantled within 3 months. To fix official responsibility for allowing the illegality, the court set up a special investigation team (SIT) for the purpose.
The company had set up a cement plant and a captive thermal unit at Bagheri in the state through fraudulent means. Coming down heavily a division bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol observed that, “the entire foundation of the environmental clearance obtained by JP Associates is based on falsehood as Company lied about the cost of the cement plant.” Court added that not only this when it came to the captive thermal plant it managed to get permission without EIA clearance and even after it was brought to the notice of company that EIA clearance was required it continued to build the thermal plant. Even when the company submitted a new proposal for grant of environmental clearance it successfully managed to fool the Himachal government, Pollution Control Board, the MoEF and the EAC into believing that the plant being set up by it was a standalone grinding unit not requiring environmental clearance. “This statement was also totally false”, the court noted.
The bench further observed that the company had the audacity and temerity to again submit totally false information with regard to the cases and tried to give an impression that the company was not aware about these cases at the given time. The court added that the manner in which the company obtained possession of the property as well as managed to get the government to allot land from the common people clearly indicates that the company was successfully managing to exert its influence to get highly illegal decisions taken in its favour.