July 4, 2008

Now, SEZ in Gujarat Faces Roadblock

NEW DELHI: India's largest special economic zone promoted by the Adani group in Kutch district of Gujarat appears to have hit the environmental hurdle.

The SC on Tuesday ordered status quo in land acquisition proceedings there following a PIL's charge that large areas of protected mangrove forests faced destruction because of the project. Appearing for petitioner Jat Imran Salim, a local fisherman, senior advocate Rakesh Khanna told a Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and G S Singhvi that the mandatory environment impact assessment had not been carried out before acquisition of land in the eco-sensitive area.

Taking note of the allegations, the bench issued notice to the ministry of environment and forest as well as the Gujarat government and sought their responses to the PIL.

As an interim measure, it ordered status quo relating to acquisition and construction activity at the 2,648 hectare SEZ site. The petitioner alleged that apart from the acquisition of large scale pasture land for the SEZ, which would take away large grazing area from cattle owners, the project could also spell doom for traditional fishermen.

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