Greenpeace: Bombay High court rejects Essar's plea
The Bombay High court on Friday rejected Essar Group's plea to prevent non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace from asking for the sacking of the Minister for Environment and Forest (MoEF) Veerappa Moily, here.
According to reports, Greenpeace has been gunning for Moily's resignation in light of his ongoing spree of hasty environment clearances, and they fear that he will give clearance to Mahan coal block soon, without properly considering the environmental issues at stake.
The case relates to Greenpeace's protest at Essar headquarters on Jan 22, 2014 over the company's plans to fell over 5 lakh trees in the Mahan forest for its proposed coal mine.
The Mahan block was allocated to a joint venture between and Essar Power and Hindalco Industries in 2006 and is currently under the CBI's scanner.
Greenpeace activists noted that, considering the hurried pace the current MoEF has taken to grant environment clearances, it is feared that Mahan coal block would be granted final (Stage 2) forest clearance in the coming days.
This is despite the company's failure to meet conditions specified by the MoEF in 2012 and failure to implement the Forest Rights Act.
Responding to the proceedings in court, Arundhati Muthu, Greenpeace campaigner said, "Essar seems to be desperate to prevent any discussion on Veerappa Moily's role in improperly granting forest clearances. To have a private company jumping to the defence of a sitting Cabinet Minister is highly dubious, to say the least. The question that needs to be asked is-why is Essar pleading with the Honourable Court to silence all talk on Moily? Is it because of they know he is about to make decisions in favour of the company?"
Essar has slapped Rs. 500 crore legal notice and has also pressed for gag order on Greenpeace and the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS, an organisation set up to defend the rights of those, who derive their livelihood from the Mahan forests) for peacefully protesting against the destruction of their homes in Mahan.
MSS has accused the company of fraud claims, that have been highlighted by NGOs and the Minister of Tribal Affairs K.C. Deo, who has written two letters to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Governor asking for investigations on the irregularities reported by the villagers from the Mahan coal block.
"Essar is trying to stifle people's voices and now they want to stop any opposition against the government. This is against the democratic principles of free speech and we will strongly contest this," explained Muthu.
Greenpeace demanded Essar to cancel its proposed coal mine in Mahan and that Veerapa Moily be sacked for his speedy clearances at the cost of the environment and the people of the country.
(Posted on 07-02-2014)