Gujarat High Court issues Notice to Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel India

Gujarat High Court
Gujarat High Court

Kashish Jain

Gujarat High Court issues a notice to the Hazira-based steel company following a PIL filed by Biran Pandya. Biran Pandya is a wildlife activist who filed a PIL against ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AM/NS) India Ltd. over alleged non-compliance with the order issued by the Union Environment Ministry which was issued Eight years ago. 

The Court passed the following statement in an oral order which was passed on 22nd February 2021 while enumerating the conditions imposed by the Ministry in question:

‘The writ-applicant, an NRI, has brought to our notice that certain mandatory conditions, which ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AM/NS) India was obliged to fulfil as imposed in the order passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest dated June 8, 2013, have not yet been complied with or rather flouted’

It was contended that among other conditions, the Indian Steel magnate has failed to provide 110 hectares of Non-forest land.

The land in question is located in the Lion Corridor area in the Sananda village of Palitana Taluka. In accordance with the petition filed by the petitioner (Biran Pandya), the Non-forest Land is still not provided for. This land has to be notified as Reserved Forest by the State Forest Department. 

As an initiative under their Corporate Social Responsibility, the company in question was required to deposit 2.5 times of the market value which was prevailing in the year 2006 for the area for the Lion Conservation Society. This has been stated in the Court order. The Court has sent notices to all the respondents.  Each respondent has been given time till March 16th to respond. 

The State forest department allotted three land parcels measuring up to 85 hectares. In-principal approvals were given in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In exchange for this, the company was to acquire three land parcels that were to be in compliance with the other mandatory conditions laid down by the Ministry in 2013 for diverting forest land. 

The petition filed stated that as the conditions laid down while granting in-principle approvals have not been complied with, there should be a cancellation of the allocated land parcels. 

The petition also stated that-

“In the instant case, the respondents have turned a blind eye to the said fact that no action and/or even explanation has been sought from user agency”

In accordance with the rules of the Forest Conservation Act, if the compliance is not met with, the permission of such allotment is revoked. To the best of his knowledge, the petition went on to add that the company in question has the intention of acquiring land without ever intending to follow the process of law. 

The company AM/NS India is an Indian Steel magnate based in the UK. It was one of the largest steel producers by volume and one of the largest producers when turnover is taken into consideration. This company acquired the Hazira Steel plant in November 2019 in an insolvency process. 

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