Shanta Kumar silent on Himachal green court fine on Jaypee cement plant

Shimla: Overtly targeting the Prem Kumar Dhumal government over corruption allegations, senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar has chosen to remain silent over a high court verdict implicating Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (JAL) for having set up a cement and thermal plant in violation of green laws even though the judgment notes that present and previous governments turned a blind eye to the company’s operations.

When contacted, Shanta Kumar said, “I reserve my comments on the courts judgment on the cement and thermal plant for now as I have yet to study the verdict completely.”

The court’s order fining JAL Rs 100 Crore for having set up the cement plant in Solan district without obtaining environment clearances has exposed the clout the company has had with the previous congress government as well as the current BJP government.

Distancing his government from the company affairs, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal earlier in the week laid the blame at the central government for having approved a small thermal plant as well as the cement plant.

“The central government gave clearance to the thermal plant even after the state pointed out that at a public hearing conducted for obtaining the nod of the local people, the project was opposed by all present at the meeting,” said Dhumal.

On the other hand congress spokesman Kuldeep Rathore held the Dhumal government responsible for overturning a policy decision by the previous Virbhadra Singh government to not allow any thermal plants in the state by permitting the JAL plant.

While JAL has become untouchable for both Congress and BJP, and the two parties trade charges, observers are questioning the silence of national BJP vice-president Shanta Kumar over the controversy that the company finds itself in here.

One senior BJP leader from the Dhumal camp pointed out, “silence of Shanta Kumar is creating a lot of noise.”

“After all is it not a trust of Jaypee group (of which JAL is one) that has bailed out Shanta Kumar in setting a dream project multi-specialty hospital in Palampur, something that had been stuck for decades even though the government had provided free land for it,” he said on conditions of anonymity.

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