The Bombay High Court issued notice on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed raising the issue regarding erection of Solar Panels and Power Generation in the Eco-Sensitive Zone, Gautala – Autramghat Wildlife Sanctuary. The power generation activity is actually carried out inside the Sanctuary, as well.
The Aurangabad Division Bench of Justice Ravindra V. Ghuge and Justice Sanjay A. Deshmukh noted from the resolution dated 07/02/2018, passed by the Monitoring Committee for the Eco-sensitive Zone in the Gautala Autram Ghat Wildlife Sanctuary that the permission for operating the Solar Farm, is granted to Respondent No.17 (Private Limited Company). However, the said entity, which should have restricted its activity to 300 Acres, has spread Solar Farms over 1070 Acres, approximately. This area is occupied by Respondent Nos.17 as well as Respondent No.18, when the latter does not even have the requisite permission. Both these entities do not have the Wildlife Clearance Certificate, Environmental Clearance Certificate or Forest Clearance Certificate.
The Monitoring Committee, though comprises of 13 members, only 5 members sat in the meeting dated 07/02/2018 and passed an illegal Resolution.
The Court directed the District Collector of Aurangabad as well as the District Collector of Jalgaon, to prepare independent confidential reports as regards the fact situation, in the light of the contentions of the Petitioners set out in the petition and tender the reports in English and Marathi languages, in a sealed cover, in the Court on the next date.
“The report must indicate, as to which are the necessary clearances, that are mandatorily required to be obtained by Respondent Nos.17 and 18, before laying the Solar Farms. The report would also indicate the total land permitted to be used to these two entities and the actual land presently under Solar Farming. The report would also indicate, as to whether there is any encroachment by these Companies”, the Bench further directed.