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Gujarat HC dismissed Writ Application against GPCB for inspecting Coal Gasifier Tech, says applicant concerned only with profit

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A Prior Case existed, whereby a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed with the serious issue of pollution caused by the Ceramic Industries at Morbi, Gujarat. The production of ceramic tiles accounts for nearly 80% of the country’s total output. Most of the ceramic industries in the area were issued the Consolidated Consents & Authorization (CCA) with the condition of using PNG/LNG as the fuel. With the increase in the PNG/LNG prices, the industries switched over to coal gasifier of very poor technology of gas cleaning without the prior permission from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), which led to major water, air and land pollution problems. The Gasifier operators started illegally disposing of the wastewater and coal tar, which has contaminated the land and water environment extensively in Morbi-Wakaner Industrial area.

Suit filed in National Green Tribunal regarding pollution in Morbi

The burning issues led to the filing of various complaints regarding the pollution in the city of Morbi & other parts on the outskirts. GPCB instructed its Officials to close down all the industries using coal-based gasifier without any prior consent and to ensure that the coal gasifiers are dismantled. Further initiating various Committees in the Process. The Original Writ Petition by Mr. Saini instituted in 2015 before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) at Pune, aimed appropriate directions to the GPCB and CPCB (Central) to take action against the ceramic industries causing pollution, which was approved by the NGT.

In this case, Radhe Renewable Energy.., (Private company), engaged in the manufacturing of coal gasifier, boasting about its fine technology is asking the Court to issue a writ of mandamus (command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty) to the GPCB to look into the technology of the Company and then make a decision whether to permit the installation of the same in the Ceramic Industries.

Arguments before the Court

As the Applicant i.e. Mr. Saini initially, in the prior case, argued on the basis of the “Precautionary Principle” (Taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty) and “Sustainable Development”, while the the Learned Counsel for the GPCB submitted that while it will be difficult for him to state that the coal gasifiers are not causing pollution as found by the Committee, the improved technology may be given further trial and to the extent any particular activity is found to be compliant with the norms, such activity may be allowed to be continued. The further Arguments by the Petitioners were continued on the initial lines of these previous contentions.

Decision of the Court

The Gujarat HC didn’t go into the details of the Issue while analysing the case, as the entire issue had been looked into in detail by the National Green Tribunal. The Court said that this Writ Application has been held to be not maintainable in law. That the coal gasifier, of which, the company is talking about, also has its own shortcomings, the Court observed that “when 60-70 per cent of the Ceramic Industries have switched over to natural gas by making connections from the Gujarat Gas Company, then why the writ applicants in the present case are still insisting for the coal gasifier?” That they are only interested in their own profits. They are insisting for coal gasifier because they may not be able to bear the expense of natural gas. This hardly can be a ground for issue of any writ of mandamus to the GPCB to look into the technology and take an appropriate decision whether the same would serve the purpose or not.

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