THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) will hear the case pertaining to the Vizhinjam seaport project on September 22. The hearing assumes significance against the backdrop of two recent developments; the Supreme Court had refused to restrain NGT from hearing the case, and, two, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has stated on Wednesday that the environment clearance granted to the Vizhinjam project was above board.
The Supreme Court, on the other hand, has posted its next hearing on the case for October 13.
State government port firm Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) has put off opening the financial bids until September 30 at the earliest with bidders seeking more time. The petitions against the project filed before the NGT questions the constitutionality of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 2011 as well as the environment clearance granted to the project.
Although Kerala had challenged the NGT’s July 2014 decision to shift all cases pertaining to the project from the Chennai Bench to its Principal Bench and NGT’s jurisdiction to hear the case, the Supreme Court had refused to grant a stay. The Apex Court had also observed that environment issues were as important as development. On Wednesday, in a counter affidavit, the MoEF had informed the NGT that all procedures were followed in granting environment clearance to the Vizhinjam seaport project. It also requested the NGT to dismiss the petitions against the project.
The ambitious project with a Phase I cost of Rs 6,600 crore won the green nod in January 2014. The very next day, the state government had floated global tenders for the project. Five companies/consortia were shortlisted subsequently, out of which three have purchased the bid documents. The present decision is to open the price bids on September 30.