The state, however, informed the court that it had decided upon the denotification of Vedanthangal sanctuary area from five kilometres to three kilometres with an intent to “maintain” the sanctuary.

Egret landing on an island in Vedanthangal photo taken by by KarthikEasvurWikimedia Commons | Karthik Easvur
news Court Friday, July 24, 2020 - 18:21

The Tamil Nadu government informed the Madras High Court on Friday that it had declined Sun Pharma’s request for expansion even while it maintained its decision to denotify the five-kilometre buffer zone at Vedanthangal bird sanctuary near Chennai. The state informed the court that it had decided upon the denotification of the sanctuary area from five-kilometre to three-kilometre with an intent to “maintain” the sanctuary.

A bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Krishnan Ramasamy was hearing a petition filed by Vennila Thayumanavan, Naam Thamizhar Katchi’s Environmental Wing State Secretary, that came up for hearing on Friday. Notably, last week the state had informed the court, on another petition, that it would not proceed with the denotification without the approval of the wildlife board.

On Friday, the state informed the High Court that while Sun Pharma, a multinational pharmaceutical company, had obtained environmental clearance for expansion from the Centre, the National Board for Wildlife had not given its approval. Therefore, the state had rejected its proposal last month, it said.

Speaking to TNM, petitioner Vennila says, “Sun Pharmaceutical’s proposal to expand has been declined. On the other hand, the government will be reducing the buffer zone of the wildlife sanctuary. This five-kilometre buffer zone is very important for protecting the sanctuary. We condemn their move to reduce it to three kilometres. Our next petition will be against this.”

Sun Pharmaceuticals that is located within the five-kilometre boundary of the sanctuary had submitted a proposal to the state government on May 30 seeking environmental clearance for expansion.

Yuvan, a wildlife activist and a nature educator from Chennai explains, “Sun Pharma had not applied to acquire extra lands but to expand its operations. This meant they wanted to increase their production thereby releasing more effluents that is already polluting the surface and groundwater.” In June, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered the setting up of a panel to probe into Sun Pharma's alleged environmental pollution on the land where it is located.

Yuvan further points out, “The state has gone on record in the court saying Sun Pharma will not be expanding. The issue, however, is the denotification of the sanctuary area by the state.”

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