The Hon’ble High Court comprising of Hon’ble Justice P. V. Hardas and Justice M.L. Tahilyani has issued notices to The Regional Officer, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Nagpur, The District Collector Wardha, M/s Lanco Vidarbha Thermal Power Co. Ltd and Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi in PIL No:-56/2012 filed by Maruti Dhongade and three other Sarpanch of villages in the District Wardha, challenging the validity and legality of the “Public Notice” issued by the MPCB for conducting the “Environmental Public Hearing” for the grant of “Environmental Clearance” to run the 660 X 2 MW Power Plant in Wardha.
The MPCB has issued Public Notice on 16-05-2012 and announced the venue for “Public Hearing” at Stadium in Wardha which is 25 KM away from the project site. The MPCB has issued the notice for public hearing on the specific directions of the High Court in PIL No:-78/2010, when the earlier Public Hearing was cancelled on account of being vitiated due to ruckus by the company officials. The petitioners are “Sarpanch” of four villages, espousing the cause of hundreds of the poor villagers residing in 40 villages within vicinity of the project, have demanded the quashing of the “Public Notice” on the ground that it is violative of statutory provisions of Environmental Protection Rules 1986. The petitioners contended that “The District Collector” has no powers to decided the date, time and venue as against the Member Secretary of MPCB, the date and venue will not ensure the “widest public participation” and the public hearing if held at 25 KM away will cause great inconvenience and be detrimental to poor farmers.
The petitioners have also alleged that the “Public Notice” is violative of the MOEF Notifications dated 14-09-2006 and 01-12-2009 and against the statutory provisions hence must be set aside. The Hon’ble High Court has issued the notices and directed the respondents to file the affidavits in two weeks. The High Court has refused to grant interim stay to the “Public Notice” and made it clear that the “Public Hearing” would be subjected to the decision of this PIL.
Adv. Tushar Mandlekar and Adv. Aniket Belorkar argued for the petitioners. Adv. Bharti Dangre waived the notices for the state government. Adv. Sanyal argued for the MPCB.