HC orders firms in Adani Ports and SEZ to stop work

The Gujarat High Court Thursday halted all commercial activities by a dozen companies located inside the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) at Mundra in Kutch on the ground that the SEZ had not yet been cleared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). A bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala also sought replies from the state government, the MoEF, the APSEZ and all 12 companies. It is expected to hear the case again after two weeks. The stay order came on a public interest litigation filed by four villagers of Navinal who make their living through agriculture and animal husbandry and have allegedly been adversely affected by the infrastructure project. Navinal is one of 14 villages located inside the SEZ area. While hearing the same PIL, the HC had last year ordered Alstom Bharat Forge, a joint venture of French and Indian companies, to stop operations on the same grounds. The company was also situated within the SEZ premises.

The companies affected by today's HC order include Ahistrom Fiber Composites, Aadi Group, Empezar Logistics, Avesta Process Equipment and Modular Avesta Engineering, Ashapura Garments, Terram Geosynthetics, Theramax, Skaps Industries, Oilfield Warehouse and Services, Dorf Ketal Speciality Catalyst, Anjani Udyog and Oriental Carbon Chemicals.

The petitioners told the HC that "the front doors are kept closed and all cosmetic exercise has been undertaken to make it appear from outside that the respective units are closed and not functioning. However, in reality, these respondent units barring one or two are indeed functioning".

Their lawyer, Anand Yagnik, said the companies continued to carry on their export and import operations and were even availing tax exemptions of more than Rs 1,000 crore even though the facility they were operating in had not been cleared as.

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