Mundra SEZ: court vacates stay

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday vacated the status quo order on construction work at Adani group’s Rs. 7,400-crore multi-product Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near the Mundra port in Gujarat.

A Bench comprising the Chief Justice, K.G. Balakrishnan, and Justices P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal vacated the interim order after hearing senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Adani Group. As counsel for petitioners wanted to withdraw the petition, the Bench dismissed it as withdrawn. The Bench, however, asked the Adani Group not to fill the creeks.

Notice ordered

On a public interest litigation petition (PIL) from Jat Imran Salim and other fishermen, a vacation Bench had granted status quo and ordered notice to the Central government, the State of Gujarat and Adani Exports.

The petitioners highlighted how the land allotted by the State government for making salt from seawater and for providing jetty in the Mundra port region had been put for private use under the SEZ and the scheme had been sanctioned by the Centre without any application of mind.

They alleged that no Environmental Impact Assessment clearance was obtained from the Environment Ministry though it pertained to forest land having thousands of mangroves.

Seeking the vacation of the interim order, the Adani group said the Mundra SEZ, established under the SEZ Act of 2005, was proposed to come up on 6,000 acres with a total investment of Rs. 7,400 crore.

“No land grabbing”

Mr. Salve submitted that all the allegations against the SEZ were baseless and aimed at pressuring the company for illegal gains. The company had not indulged in land grabbing but had acquired the land strictly in accordance with law after giving a public hearing and paying compensation and premium for rehabilitation.

Permission obtained

The Adani Group said the Mundra port was a running port since 1998 and all the activities of loading and unloading, which required constant maintenance and upgrading, were being undertaken in accordance with law and after obtaining necessary permission and environmental clearances.

It said the group had already invested over Rs. 3,500 crore in port development and planned to invest another Rs. 4,000 crore in phases.

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