Embarrassed by the online game, TATA Sons had filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace in the Delhi High Court claiming defamation and trademark infringement and asked for Rs. 10 crore in damages. Greenpeace’s case was argued by Advocate Saikrishna Rajgopal of Saikrishna & Associates, New Delhi.
Greenpeace has been an outspoken critic of the Dhamra port project; being co-developed by TATA Steel and L&T, on account of the threat it poses to nearby protected areas and endangered species, including the Olive Ridley turtle.
“By denying TATA’s plea for an interim injunction, the High Court has stood up in defense of the fundamental right to free speech and fair criticism, the basis of any democracy” said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace India. “The Dhamra project remains a national disgrace and the fact that authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the irregularities in the project is shameful,” he asserted.
Documents obtained last month by Greenpeace under the Right to Information Act have revealed that Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had agreed that the port was in probable violation of the Forest Conservation Act, but decided to overlook the issue, contradicting senior officers of the Ministry in doing so.
The file noting by Jairam Ramesh (1) argues in favour of condoning the violation on the grounds that “the port itself is nearing completion. Had construction not commenced, we could have taken a decision unequivocally not to let the project proceed at the site whose “forest status” is disputed.” The note goes on to say that “…were we to consider this case today, we will have no option but to insist on clearance under FCA 1980”. The MoEF subsequently stated before the Supreme Court that the area was not forest land.
The Dhamra port project has been opposed by conservationists ever since it was proposed in the 1990s, on account of its proximity to the Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, and the habitats of endangered species including the saltwater crocodile and olive ridley sea turtle.
“The Ministry’s behavior on the Dhamra port makes it clear that there are different standards for different corporations, when it comes to upholding the country’s green laws,” said Fernandes. “If Minister Jairam Ramesh is serious about protecting India’s coast, he needs to make sure that the mistakes of Dhamra are not repeated or exacerbated.”
The Delhi High Court will continue to hear the prayer for damages filed by the TATA group before a regular bench, with the next hearing on February 21.
For further information contact
Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91-99801 99380,
Hozefa Merchant, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91-98195 92410,
Saikrishna Rajgopal, Saikrishna & Associates, +91 99101 53099
Notes to Editor: