HC denies green signal for Nirma's Mahuva cement plant

The Gujarat High Court has refused to stay a notice issued by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to Nirma Ltd to halt work at its cement plant at Mahuva in Bhavnagar district.

Nirma had approached the court for quashing of the MoEF notice and also sought a stay on the notice served, as an interim relief. However, a division bench of chief justice S J Mukhopadhaya and justice Anant S Dave refused to stay the MoEF notice, and fixed 7 April as the next date for hearing.

The court said that it did not feel that granting a stay was necessary at this stage. It added that the company was at liberty to challenge the MoEF notice in the Supreme Court.

On 12 March, the MoEF ordered "permanent suspension of work" on the 1.91 million tonne per annum capacity cement plant being built by Nirma Ltd along with a captive power and coke oven plant near Padhiarka village in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district.

The decision was taken on the basis of a report by an experts appraisal committee, which found violation of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 by the projects being set up in a wetland in the district.

While Nirma was seeking a relief from the High Court against the MoEF order, over 5,000 farmers from Mahuva in Saurashtra district of Gujarat opposing the company's cement plant gathered at Sabarmati Ashram (once run by Mahatma Gandhi).