HC extends till October 16 stay on MPCB’s closure order against NCP MLA’s manufacturing unit

The Bombay High Court on Friday extended till October 16 an interim order staying the operation of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) order directing Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Rohit Pawar to close down a part of his firm Baramati Agro Ltd.

A division bench led by Justice Nitin Jamdar said it would hear a plea filed by Baramati Agro Ltd challenging the MPCB’s closure order on October 16.

The bench directed the MPCB to file its affidavit in response to the petition and said it would hear the matter on October 13.

On September 29, the court had in an interim order directed the authorities to not act on the order till October 6 (Friday).

Appearing for the MPCB, senior counsel Milind Sathe on Friday urged the court to vacate the stay alleging that there was a large-scale violation on the part of the petitioner.

The bench, however, noted that the MPCB ought to put forth its submissions in an affidavit first.

The firm in its plea filed through advocate Akshay Shinde alleged that the order has been passed “owing to political influence and considering the present political situation to pressurise the director of the petitioner company i.e. Rohit Pawar, who is also a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra.”

Rohit Pawar, who is the grand-nephew of Sharad Pawar, is the CEO of Baramati Agro Ltd.

Baramati Agro Ltd is involved in the manufacturing of animal and poultry feed, sugar and ethanol, co-generation of power, trading agri-commodities, fruits and vegetables and dairy products.

The petition claimed that the company has obtained the necessary permissions from time to time to operate the unit and that it was also granted environmental clearance in 2022.

The MPCB claimed that certain irregularities were found during a regular inspection of the unit situated in Pune. Earlier this month, the Board issued a show cause notice to the company which was responded to and a personal hearing was also held.

“However, the MPCB officials failed to take into consideration any explanation, clarification or evidence submitted by the petitioner company and issued an order on September 27 directing to close down the manufacturing activities of the unit within 72 hours,” the plea said.

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The plea further stated that the impugned order of the MPCB was arbitrary, illegal, unlawful and discriminatory.

The order violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner to carry out business or trade and that directing the closure of the unit was an extremely stringent and disproportionate action, it said.

The petition cited that the unit has been operating since 2007-2008 and there has not been a single instance of any environmental violation.

It further stated that the unit which has been ordered to be closed down is situated within the same premises as the sugar factory run by the company and that supply of water and electricity are commonly connected.

It said the closing of this unit would result in the stoppage of electricity and water supply to the sugar factory, causing irreparable harm and loss.

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