EAS Sarma says his complaints on environmental violations for the oil company’s expansion project have been repeatedly ignored
A few days ago, it was revealed that the ministry of environment and forests, contrary to popular belief that it was getting tough with mining and industrial corporations, had in fact stalled only 1.3% of projects from getting clearances. Now, even as the government is under pressure, a former bureaucrat has threatened to drag environment officials to court for turning a blind eye towards the environmental violations by a state-owned oil company.
EAS Sarma, former secretary in the ministries of finance and power, has issued notices to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary, the secretary in the union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) , special chief secretary in the environment department at the Andhra Pradesh secretariat, a member secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the district collector and the vice-chairman of the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The notice has informed that the issuer intends to file a case against Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) for damaging local ecology, and to hold the government responsible for not discharging its duties in this regard.
HPCL allegedly undertook construction work adjacent to its refinery in Visakhapatnam without appropriate statutory clearances from the MOEF and the state pollution control board for its expansion project. "HPCL has illegally cut down mangrove forests in that area, and destroyed other bio-resources, and by undertaking construction activity within the CRZ where such construction activity is prohibited," Mr Sarma said.
In his letter to the six respondents, he has demanded an explanation from the authorities as to what action was undertaken against the company. "I will be constrained to file a case against all of you and the private companies and individuals responsible for the statutory violations, as soon as the statutory period of 60 days elapse," he wrote in the notice.
Mr Sarma alleged that HPCL representatives had admitted to him that they had cut down a part of the mangrove forests on a piece of land that was provided by the Visakhapatnam Port Trust. In his complaint, he has attached photographs that show construction activities going on at the HPCL project site. He says he also has eye-witness accounts to corroborate his complaint against the company.
"A buffer zone of 50 metres around any stretch of mangroves extending over 1,000 square metres or more needs to be left out," Mr Sarma said. "The district collector is expected to oversee the conservation of the ecologically sensitive areas. The central and state departments in charge of environment and forests are equally responsible to prevent the destruction of the mangroves and for compliance with the CRZ requirements."
HPCL, however, has tried to shrug off the allegations. The company later claimed to have returned the land in question after they found the area unsuitable for their project. Repeated calls to HPCL's corporate office were not answered.
Orchid Chemicals’ cephalosporin producing facility at Alathur in Chennai has reopened and the production will commence immediately
Drug firm Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals said it had resumed production at its unit in Chennai. "The company's cephalosporin producing facility at Alathur in Chennai has reopened and the production will commence immediately," Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
The company's cephalosporin producing facility at Alathur in Chennai was issued a closure notice by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) citing some non-compliance with regard to the disposal of solid waste in July this year. The Alathur facility manufactures a range of oral and sterile cephalosporin APIs and caters to developed markets like the US, Europe and Japan. Cephalosporins are a newer class of antibiotics used in treating infections in different parts of the body.
On Wednesday, Orchid Chemicals ended 0.07% down at Rs202.55 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex gained 0.66% to 16,840.80.
During the entire 2010-11 fiscal, the company had sold 22.43 million sq ft for Rs2,392.7 crore
Realty firm Ansal Properties and Infrastructure said it has sold 9.54 million sq ft of area for Rs1,138 crore during the first four months of the current fiscal.
During the entire 2010-11 fiscal, the company had sold 22.43 million sq ft for Rs2,392.7 crore. "Total area sold in four months ended FY2012 increased to
9.54 million sq ft, aggregating to total sale value of Rs1,138.1 crore," Ansal said in latest operational updates.
The average realisation stood at Rs1,433 per sq ft in July 2011 against Rs1,404 a sq ft in the previous month. "Major sales booked in Phase I and Phase II of Sushant Golf City, Lucknow during the month (July)," the company said.
Ansal had recently reported a nearly 44% decline in consolidated net profit at Rs21.74 crore for the quarter ended 30 June due to higher expenditure on construction. The company had posted a net profit of Rs38.79 crore in the year-ago period.
The total income, however, increased by 16.42% to Rs297.01 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal against Rs255.12 crore in the corresponding period of last fiscal. Ansal's total expenditure grew to Rs245.17 crore during the June quarter of 2011-12 fiscal from Rs182.98 crore in the year-ago period.
On Wednesday, Ansal Properties ended 6.49% down at Rs28.10 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex gained 0.66% to 16,840.80.