in which the environment ministry decides to ignore its own laws…

By slapping a Rs 200-crore penalty on the Adani Group for environmental violations, the ministry of environment and forests may be breaking its own laws, say environmental lawyers. According to Delhi-based environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta, the two laws that define the penal framework for such violations — the Environment Protection Act (EPA) and the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) — don’t give the ministry the powers to levy a fine. “They empower the ministry to start criminal prosecution in a court and to cancel an environmental clearance,” he says. “There is nothing in the laws giving the ministry any power to levy such a penalty.”

one of the defining traits of the upa regime has been its opportunistic relationship with the rule of law. this story, out today, again highlights that tendency.

the strange ways of kandla port

Last week, when Mundra overtook Kandla in the first quarter of 2013-14 to become the country’s largest port by tonnage handled, it was as much the result of the Adani Group taking decisions with purpose and strategic intent as the Kandla management demonstrating an inexplicable streak of indecision and inaction. In Gandhidham, the town that services Kandla, the perception among shipping firms and cargo agents is that, this public sector port has been scoring self-goals, ceding business – and tactical advantage – to privately-owned Mundra 60 km away, where the first ship docked just 15 years ago.

i stumbled upon this story while working on a profile of Gautam Adani, one of post-liberalisation India’s largest infrastructure tycoons.

ps – i can now legitimately claim to write on shipping and ports for the economic times.