The Supreme Court has issued notice to the state Environment and Forest department and private respondents on a petition challenging the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s order quashing the environmental clearance given to a cement plant.
A division bench, consisting of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma, gave three weeks to the respondents to file a reply and fixed 25 April as the next date of hearing.
The state government had signed an MOU in 1995 and an environmental clearance was granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to the plant on the request of then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, without any fresh public hearing. On the written request of Singh, a mandatory public hearing for the project was waived by the then Environment and Forest minister A Raja, despite opposition from locals.
Opposing the decision to set up the plant in a densely-populated area and close to a wildlife sanctuary, the residents of the area filed six petitions, challenging the environmental clearance and land acquisition, which were allowed by the High Court.
Harish Cement Ltd has filed six Special Leave Petitions (SLP) before the Supreme court against the decision of the High Court and all the petitions were taken up for hearing today.