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Supreme Court upholds the order to tear down Adani JV’s edible oil tanks.

The Supreme Court has ordered the demolition of a storage and transit terminal for edible oil run by KTV Oil Mills and KTV Health Foods, which are joint ventures of Adani Wilmar Limited and the KTV Group. The terminal is on the Tondiarpet coast of Chennai and is in violation of regulations for the coastal zone.

The bench of Justices K M Joseph, B V Nagarathna, and J B Pardiwala gave five storage tanks with a total capacity of 12,825 kilo litres six months to be taken down.

In 2019, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 was changed to clear the project after construction had already begun without CRZ clearance.

Only notified port areas are allowed to have storage facilities for non-hazardous cargo like edible oil, according to the CRZ Notification of 2011.

Since the KTV storage and transit facility on Ennore Expressway was built 4 km from the Chennai port in a coastal regulation zone, the NGT said in 2020 that it could not even be considered for post-facto clearance.

The Supreme Court bench said this about the pipeline: “There’s no doubt that the pipeline may only be useful if it’s connected to the storage tank. The District Coastal Zonal Management Authority could decide if the pipeline can still be used after the storage tanks are taken down. An official from the government of Tamil Nadu said, “In theory, the pipeline could be extended to another storage facility outside the coastal regulation zone.”

An NGO in Chennai that works with local fishermen asked the NGT for help. In September 2020, the NGT ordered the oil storage tanks and the 10-inch-diameter pipeline built to move edible oil from Chennai Port to be torn down and charged Rs 25 lakh. The JVs went to the Supreme Court to fight the order.

Here’s how things happened:

  • 2015: KTV Health Foods asked for CRZ clearance for the pipeline, storage, and transit terminal that will move edible oil from Chennai port to its refinery units in Gummidipoondi and Korukkupet.
  • 2016: An NGO took Adani Wilmar JV to the National Green Tribunal for building without CRZ clearance.
  • 2017: The NGT confirmed that the rule was broken and stopped work on the project. The committee of experts from the Environment Ministry who looked at CRZ said that the 2011 CRZ Notification did not include a way to get clearance after the fact. Still, the EAC-CRZ tried to use the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification of 2006 to be able to recommend that the project be approved after it was already done.
  • In 2018, the Environment Ministry changed the CRZ Notification from 2011 so that projects that were already allowed by the rules could get clearance after the fact. The Adani Wilmar JV asked the ministry to look at its application, which is still pending.
  • 2019: The CRZ clearance was given by the ministry.
  • 2020: The NGT ruled that the “authorities were not allowed to consider the application under the amended Notification, 2018 and give ex-post facto clearance to an activity that is not allowed. The same is not legal, so the ex-post facto clearance given… is likely to be revoked.”

KTV Oil Mills, which also built storage tanks nearby, joined KTV Health Foods in going to the Supreme Court to fight the order.

  • 2023: NGT order upheld by Supreme Court.

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