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Green panel cracks whip on Reliance, Essar among others

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued bailable warrants against the officials concerned of Madhya Pradesh government’s environment department, forest department and pollution control board as well as the District Collector of Singrauli as no one appeared on their behalf despite issuance of notice to them on 18 September. ‘Respondents 3, 4, 5 (Madhya Pradesh government) and 8 (Singrauli District Collector) have been served. Despite service no one is present... We issue bailable warrants against respondents 3, 4, 5 and 8 in the sum of Rs 10,000...to ensure appearance of these respondents before the tribunal on the next date of hearing. ‘In the meanwhile, none of the respondents will fell trees without consent of the competent authority,’ the bench said and listed the matter for 12 November.

The NGT was hearing a plea opposing new power projects in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts alleging that pollution and serious ailments are being caused due to coal mining as well as emissions of thermal power stations there.

The petition by Supreme Court lawyer Ashwani Kumar Dubey has also raised the issue of alleged felling of trees by Mahan Coal Ltd, a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco Industries, without obtaining requisite forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
During the proceedings, counsel for Essar assured the tribunal that its 1200 MW thermal power project in Singrauli has all required clearances and that the power plant is not even in the forest area. The counsel for Hindalco submitted that its captive power project there only has stage I forest clearance and assured the bench that there no trees are being felled at present. However, advocate M Z Chaudhary appearing for Dubey, contended that cutting of trees is going on
Dubey, in his petition, has opposed grant of sanction for any new project or for expansion of existing units till an action plan for improving environmental quality of the areas is implemented.
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