HSA Advocates successfully defend Environmental clearance granted to Vizhinjam Port.
HSA Advocates have successfully defended the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited (VISL), before the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT passed an order yesterday, dismissing the petitions filed against the EC granted for Vizhinjam Port being developed by VISL under the Public Private Partnership route in the State of Kerala. HSA Advocates regulatory and disputes team have effectively led to this successful outcome, under the able leadership of its founding partner, Hemant Sahai, along with Sakya Singha Chaudhuri (Partner), Amrita Narayan, Pragya Ohri, Kanika Chugh and Tushar Srivastava.
The present dispute had arisen in the year 2014, wherein the EC granted to VISL was challenged by diverse people claiming to be stakeholders and representing interests of project affected persons, in multiple proceedings before NGT Chennai and the principal bench of NGT in New Delhi. All the matters were eventually consolidated in the principal bench New Delhi on various grounds.
Diverse technical, economic and financial grounds were taken by the petitioners to challenge the EC grant to the project. The grounds ranged from allegations that the project would cause serious shoreline erosion, damage to marine life, that the project fell in an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ as defined in erstwhile and repealed CRZ notifications with a prayer to resurrect the definition and parameters of the statutorily repealed CRZ notification, issues purporting to inadequate rehabilitation measures and compensation offered to affected persons, ignoring rights of fishermen and other diverse other technical, economic and financial grounds.
The matter was heard at length by the Principal Bench, New Delhi on several dates. After detailed consideration of the factual, technical, economic, financial and legal contentions raised by the parties, the Principal Bench in New Delhi passed a detailed order dismissing the appeals and application filed by the diverse petitioners.
The present project is the first deep water trans-shipment port in India, with multiple economic benefits promising to accrue to the local economy of Kerala as well as the country. Presently, almost the entire container traffic bound for India is received and transhipped into India out of foreign ports including Colombo, Dubai, Salallah, Singapore and the Chinese built and operated port at Hambantota in Sri Lanka, from where they are brought into India in smaller ships. The Vizhinjam Port has the potential to bring a large proportion of this economic activity onto the shores of India thereby creating a significant economic ecosystem in Kerala and inland India. The port is proximate to the international shipping lanes and with its natural draught (depth) it can accommodate the largest mother ships of the world carrying container cargo.
The Hon’ble Principal Bench, while dismissing the appeals has directed constitution of an Expert Committee, to monitor strict compliance with the conditions that had been included while granting the EC to the project. The Committee would include various eminent and senior scientists and other senior level officials in the fields of Oceanography, marine studies, shoreline changes, coastal zone management and pollution control board.
The judgment can be found at the following link : http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/Writereaddata/Downloads/74-2014(PB-I-Judg)OA2-9-2016.pdf
“The matter was unique and extremely challenging on multiple levels. The challenge to the EC was on several highly technical grounds that required the legal team to engage with engineers, financial and technical experts and assimilate, analyse and coherently present diverse engineering, environmental and economic arguments in a legal context, before the Tribunal. It was a hugely complex, yet satisfying experience for the legal team.”, says Hemant Sahai, Founding Partner. “This result is a clear demonstration of HSA’s strength and ability to effectively handle matters involving not just legal issues but highly complex technical, financial and economic issues in a regulatory framework” Hemant added.