National Green Tribunal has canceled two environmental clearance certificates granted by the Gujarat State Environment Impact Assessment Authority in 2020 to cement giant Ultratech Cement Limited and its subsidiary Narmada Cement Company Limited for limestone mining at Babarkot village in Amreli’s Jafrabad.
Noting that the area in question was more than 50 hectares, it is considered category ‘A’. Hence the tribunal ruled that it requires clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and not from Gujarat State Environment Impact Assessment Authority.
Even if the two are taken as separate, it is an expansion of an existing project, in which case also it has to be appraised by MoEF&CC, even if it is less than 50 hectares,” the bench stated.
The decision came in response to two appeals that said the grant of EC violated the law as the mines were more than 50 hectares. In addition, the appellant stated that the mines were split into two to subvert Category-A classification while seeking environmental clearance.
The two companies also have an existing mining lease for 565.93 hectares in the same area.
The appeal also stated that environmental clearance was granted without following the due process of law in an eco-sensitive area with a habitat of Asiatic lions, with no Wildlife Conservation Plan.
On June 30, 2021, the tribunal appointed an eight-member joint fact-finding committee to undertake a visit to the site and interact with stakeholders and furnish a factual and action-taken report on the matter.
However, Ultratech Cement and Narmada Cement Company had opposed this, saying no such committee inspection was required as the environmental clearance in question was valid.
In its order dated February 21, the five-member bench noted that the ministry should specify the norms on assessing mining clusters regarding significant minerals. However, the guidelines in the notification dated 14/08/2018 are confined to minor minerals.
Also Read: A Humongous Amount Of Red Sandalwood Seized From Mundra Port