Green fine on Adani port not waived: Ministry

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, in a late night statement on Saturday, said the Adani Port and SEZ Ltd (APSEZ), may have to pay a fine far greater than what was fixed by the UPA government in 2012, for the environmental damage caused by the construction of its port project in Mundra, Gujarat.

However, it also underlined that a “fine” of Rs 200 crore, imposed on the company during the UPA government’s tenure “was not backed by any law under the Environment Protection Act and not legally correct.”

The ministry issued a statement signed by Bishwanath Sinha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Sunita Narain report

This was in response to a media report on Saturday that claimed that the APSEZ was spared from a Rs 200 crore fine that was imposed on the company in 2013. That year, the United Progressive Alliance had issued a show cause notice to M/s Adani Port and SEZ Ltd. based on a report by a committee chaired by Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment. The report — based on an investigation and made public through a Right to Information query — recommended that an Environment Relief Fund (ERF) worth one per cent of the project cost or Rs 200 crore, whichever was higher, ought to be created to remedy any environmental damage incurred.

It had also recommended the North Port, a key part of the project, be done away with to preserve the area’s ecological balance. Other recommendations include steps to conserve mangroves, manage and dispose of flyash, control salinity, and prepare for disasters that affect coastal zones.

However, the UPA government in April 2014 noted that the “creation of ERF as not supported by any Law,” said Mr Sinha. Not withstanding that, the NDA government has also accepted the recommendations of the Sunita Narain Committee and, in its statement, said it had imposed stringent conditions with open ended financial commitment by APSEZL.

“It is amply clear that MoEF&CC has not withdrawn its demand for Rs.200 crore restoration fund. The decision of the ministry is much more stringent than asking for Rs 200 crore from APSEZL,” the statement noted. Calls and text messages by The Hindu to Ms Sunita Narain and Mr. Sinha were not returned. The Adani group has also been fined Rs 25 crore by the National Green Tribunal for environmental damage caused by its Hazira Port in Gujarat.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 11:18:18 AM |

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