Hindustan Salt’s 4000 MW Solar Park Plans Under High Court Scrutiny

Hindustan Salt’s 4000 MW Solar Park Plans Under High Court Scrutiny

Last month, we had reported on the ambitious move by ailing PSU Hindustan Salts Limited to use its land bank for a massive 4000 MW solar park. That plan, always an ambitious stretch considering the many issues with the firm as well as its non-existent expertise in the solar space, has just been questioned, and possibly placed on hold by the Rajasthan High court.

Amicus curiae R B Mathur applied for a stay on the project with a copy of a report in the Times of India, pointing out the risks to the ecology of the Sambhar wetlands environment from such a project.

A 4000 MW project would require at least 16,000 acres of land, pleaded the petition, and the impact of such a venture would be detrimental to the ecosystem around the wetland. For the record, the Sambhar lake has been declared a Ramsar site by the UN, but remains in limbo as far as its legal status as a wetland goes in India, as no such notification declaring it a wetland has been issued formally. Perhaps precisely because of a PSU being involved with extracting salt from the lake and its environs. A Ramsar site is a wetland considered to be of international importance, under the Ramsar convention.

In the case of Hindustan Salts, which actually claims to have almost 58,000 acres of land under its control, including land that has been encroached on, the high court order to not take any further steps might not be the closure on its plans, as it might yet find the land in other places. Either way, a project that was always a long shot just became that much more difficult to envisage. Not exactly the best way to attract responses to the EOI, which remains in play.

For Rajasthan itself, the massive solar pipeline, already under strain due to the issues linked to the Supreme Court order on the Giant Indian Bustard, remains more on paper than actual conversion, at least for the near future.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International