New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has allowed Hindustan Zinc Ltd’s plea for treating the Rs 25 crore penalty deposited by it for violation of environmental norms as its contribution toward corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The purpose of CSR is to ensure that corporates give back to the community by taking part in philanthropic causes.
The green panel had earlier imposed a fine of Rs 25 crore on the Vedanta group firm for violation of environmental norms in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district.
A bench of chairperson Justice A K Goel noted that according to the company’s counsel, the project proponent (PP) or Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) had deposited the amount and was willing to execute the remediation plan as proposed by the joint committee comprising the Rajasthan state pollution control board and the Collector of Bhilwara district.
The bench, also comprising judicial members Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi along with expert member Afroz Ahmad, noted the counsel’s request that instead of the amount being treated as compensation, it may be considered a contribution toward CSR activity.
“Having regard to the fact situation, we allow this prayer and further direct that in the course of execution of the action plan, Micro Watershed Management Plan for protection of groundwater and soil quality and health cards for the households may be duly focused,” the bench said.
The green panel also said for proper monitoring and evaluation, independent third-party validation of remedial measures be obtained by the company through a credible agency.
“Its reports be placed on the website of the PP on six monthly basis till the completion of restoration measures,” the tribunal said.
The NGT was hearing a review petition filed by Hindustan Zinc Ltd to reassess the order dated February 2, 2022 and discharge the company from liability under the precautionary pay principle as all conditions for compliance were “duly fulfilled”.
Saying the company will comply with the recommendations made by the committee, it sought an “opportunity to take all essential, corrective, and remedial measures under social outreach programs.”
Earlier, while hearing a batch of pleas alleging violation of environmental norms by the company in executing mining lease of lead, zinc and associated minerals in the villages covering nearly an area of 1,200 hectares of mining land, the tribunal had imposed the penalty.