Himachal High court verdict to slap a fine of Rs 100 crore will perhaps rein in the cement dragons that are disturbing the ecology of the picturesque hill state. Though it is too early to believe that the court ruling will control the dragons but it will certainly pave way for further environmental reforms.
ONE GOOD thing about democracy is its judiciary, which does not sometimes even bow to political pressures. The latest example has emerged from Himachal Pradesh's judicial circles where the High Court slapped Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) with a whopping fine of Rs. 100 crore for violating the law and fraudulently setting up a cement factory and a thermal power plant. It is a historical verdict that shows a silver lining amid the concerns over detonations taking place in the hill state's natural landscape.
The decision is also a far cry in terms of reining in the powerful business
houses, which fraudulently mislead environment department in order to set up their poisonous plants. In Himachal, both the political parties—the ruling BJP and the Congress—have failed to infuse a life into the state's economy and so have resorted to fill the coffers by bringing the cement dragons into the state. The cement dragons—Ambuja Cements, ACC, JP, etc—have consumed the most hills in districts like Solan, Bilaspur and Mandi causing a great imbalance in the nature. To get a proof, a drive down these districts immediately introduces you to endless rows of trucks transporting cement bags outside the state through the hills-reduced-to-mounds. The rainfall is abysmally low compared to previous years. The clouds of dust often hang in these parts.
Although it is too early to assume that the HC verdict will impact the undue dissemination of cement giants into the state, it has at least paved the way to introduce further environmental reforms. It is an opportunity for the state government to put its energy in reinventing ways to revive the economy through other means and not play with the mountains on which the locals take pride.
We must applaud the efforts of Him Parivesh Environment Protection Society, a Nalagarh-based NGO and the petitioners, who brought the matter into the court.