Harish cement plant in Mandi fails to get environmental clearance

14 December 2010

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has quashed the environmental clearances granted to a cement plant proposed by India-based Harish Cements in Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh.

The court set aside the land acquisition proceedings for the plant that wasunderway at the site, which was approved by the then government in 2005. The plant is located less than six kilometres away from the Bandli wildlife sanctuary. The court questioned the state government’s decision to waive off a public hearing before giving clearance to the plant. A public hearing is mandatory as per the Environment Protection Act 1986. Harish Cements India, a unit of Grasim Cements had obtained permission for the plant in 1995, but could not develop the plant. The proposal was again approved in 2005. The Himachal Pradesh government has sanctioned four cement plants since 2005, two of which including the Harish Cements plant, have been rejected. The other rejected proposal came from the French cement manufacturer Lafarge. Lafarge had proposed construction of an INR9 billion ($200 million) cement plant in the Karsog area of the state, but the proposal was rejected by the Environmental Appellate Authority.