Why no action against Sun Pharma for false info, NGT asks Centre

Tribunal says as per PCCF affidavit project proposed within Vedanthangal sanctuary; asks green ministry to explain if environmental clearance for the unit is sustainable.
FILE PHOTO | Sun Pharma (Photo | AFP)
FILE PHOTO | Sun Pharma (Photo | AFP)

CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has sought a detailed report from the Union Environment Ministry on why no action was taken against Sun Pharma for obtaining environment clearance (EC) for the expansion of its plant located inside Vedanthangal bird sanctuary by submitting false information. 

In the form-1 application submitted by Sun Pharma, it was declared that its manufacturing plant at Maduranthakam is approximately 3.72 km from the boundary of the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.

The ministry gave EC on March 31, 2022, for expanding the manufacturing unit’s production capacity from 25.5 TPM to 134 TPM. 

An appeal was filed before the NGT challenging the EC and in the affidavit, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden Srinivas R Reddy stated Sun Pharma plant was located inside Vedanthangal bird sanctuary and 2.3 km away from Karikili bird sanctuary falling within its default ESZ. 

The NGT bench comprising judicial member Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member K Satyagopal has asked the union environment ministry if there has been a follow-up and whether the EC is sustainable as false information was submitted.

“As the PCCF stated in his report that the project site (Sun Pharma plant) is within the bird sanctuary, whether the EC granted now is sustainable in view of the false information furnished,” the bench said. 

The tribunal, in its previous order last year, held Sun Pharma guilty of polluting the environment and violating the provisions of the EIA Notification (2006) and imposed Rs 10 crore as environmental compensation. 

Despite all these, “it appears that no action has been taken by the union environment ministry either by recalling or cancelling the EC granted for non-compliance. So, this tribunal wants to know when the ECs are granted subject to several conditions, whether there is a follow-up action by the ministry in the event of non-compliance, as in the instance case.” 

The instant case is a classic example where the EC is granted subject to several conditions which are not complied with by Sun Pharma, but the validity of the EC is sustained despite the same, the NGT said. 

When contacted, a Sun Pharma spokesperson told TNIE, “Sun Pharma’s Maduranthakam manufacturing site is not located inside the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.” 

In its affidavit submitted before the NGT, Sun Pharma claimed there were several other pharma units and other industries in and around its factory. It claims till date the survey numbers which come under the purview of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary was not spelled out by the forest department.

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