HC reprimands RIL for disregarding environment

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Reliance Industries
Chennai, Jul 21: The Madras High Court has pulled up energy behemoth Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for kick starting a gas pipeline project in Puducherry before acquiring the required environmental clearance.

The division bench comprising justice Prabha Sridevan and justice GM Akbar Ali on Tuesday, Jul 20 kept aside the fact that Reliance had obtained approval after commencing the project.

"If an environment disaster strikes, it will strike the mighty and the weak equally. We do not understand why the company should have commenced production and then obtained approval," the high court bench said expressing disappointment over the company's attitude and lack of social responsibility.

Noting that the project site spread over mangrove forests, the HC directed the Puducherry government to ask for and obtain an environment impact report from experts.

The HC passed the order on a PIL filed by S Sai Kumar, hailing from Yanam, a territory of Puducherry. Based on the Madras River Conservancy Act, the petitioner had urged the court to stop the industrial giant from establishing a 'block valve station' for the pipeline project in Dariyalatippa village.

Kumar pointed out that 25 per cent of the local population were fishermen who were dependent on the river and that the project could lead to destruction of coconut plantation and mangrove forests, in turn increasing possibility of flooding.

The government of the union territory and the Mukesh Ambani-led RIL had signed a MoU for the implementation of a national gas development project in Puducherry.

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