HYDERABAD: Beleaguered LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd will likely face a penalty for not holding a valid Environment Clearance (EC) at its manufacturing unit in Visakhapatnam.
Acknowledging as much, the company vowed to pay 100 per cent penalties for ‘illegal operations with reference to relevant statutes,’ in order to obtain an EC, either retrospectively or prospectively to expand production capacity of polystyrene and expandable polystyrene.
However, what’s unclear is the quantum of penalty given that the facility has been operational for at least four decades.
According to the sworn affidavit filed in May 2019 by P Chandra Mohan Rao, Director - Operations, LG Polymers, until the penalties, if any and as imposed by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), were paid, the company cannot be granted Terms of Reference or an EC.
“I am aware that the Environmental Clearance will not be operational till such time I comply requirements and judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court dated the 2nd August 2017 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.114 of 2014 in the matter of Common Cause versus Union of India and Ors,” Rao said.
He was referring to the SC order, which directed payment of 100 per cent penalty for illegal operations with reference to the relevant statutes, which inter-alia, include the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 the water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957.
At its meeting in July 2019, the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), AP transferred LG Polymers’ proposal to the Union Ministry for further processing.
In their minutes of the meeting, the panel classified the company’s proposal as a ‘Category A’ for which a “prior environment clearance” from the centre was needed as against LG Polymers’ claim to be falling under Category B, for which a state-level nod will suffice.
Curiously, LG Polymers’ delisted its proposal from the MoEF&CC in November 2019 as it was no longer interested in expanding the project. Still, the fact remains that the company has no valid EC for its existing unit, by its own admission.
Didn’t have valid green clearance
Rao noted that LG Polymers doesn’t have a valid EC substantiating the produced quantity, issued by the competent authority, for continuing operations. “However, we are continuing our plant operations with valid consent for operation from State PCB,” he noted.
Could seek clearance till April 18
The govt in March 2017 let companies apply for an EC within six months. A Madras HC order dated March 16, 2018, granted an additional 30 days to file applications. It means, LG Polymers had till April, 2018.