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Conflicting orders on CLU, HC asks CS to clarify

Conflicting orders on CLU, HC asks CS to clarify


Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, January 23

The right hand of the Punjab Government does not know what the left is doing, apparently. Nearly five months after the change of land use granted to a cement factory allegedly against Sangrur’s sanctioned master plan came under the judicial scanner, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was told that the state’s environmental wing had declined permission, but was granted by another wing.

Taking note of the two stands, a Division Bench of the high court has now asked the state through the Chief Secretary to clarify the issue.

As a bunch of two petitions came up for hearing before the Bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Kuldeep Tiwari, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that the environmental wing had declined to grant permission for the relevant purpose to the respondent-cement factory.

The counsel further submitted that the permission had, however, been granted to the entity by another wing. As such, opposite stands were taken by different wings of the state. The Bench was also told that the decision to decline permission by the environmental wing was to prevail or enjoy precedence over the permission granted to the industrial unit concerned.

Senior advocate Anand Chhibbar on the respondent-entity’s behalf, on the other hand, submitted that the precedence was to be assigned to the permission granted. “Therefore, the State of Punjab, through its Chief Secretary, is directed to clarify, which among the two rival departments, enjoys powers to grant the requisite permission,” the Bench added, while fixing February 17 as the deadline.

The high court, on September 20, 2022, had stayed the laying down of “any infrastructure for the cement factory”. The direction came after the Bench was told all efforts were now being made for laying down the necessary infrastructure to make the factory operational at a rapid pace.

This, senior advocate RS Bains with counsel Aarushi Garg submitted, was pursuant to the permission being granted for setting up of the cement factory — a red category industry in a purely agricultural zone.

The matter was brought to the court’s notice by a nonagenarian and six residents. Among other things, they were seeking directions for quashing the permission for the CLU. In their petition, Harbinder Singh Sekhon, 90, and other petitioners contended that the CLU dated December 13, 2021, granted by the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion (PBIP) to the respondent-cement factory was patently illegal and “incorrect in nature” as it was against the sanctioned master plan.

Besides this, it was also against the guidelines laid down by the Punjab Pollution Control Board. The petitioners in the other case were represented by Arjun Pratap Atma Ram and Dhiraj Jindal.

The case

The state’s environmental wing had declined permission to a cement unit in Sangrur, but it was granted by the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion

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