Issuing show cause notices as to why exemplary damages be not imposed on companies which defaced eco-fragile rock faces with product advertisements, the Supreme Court today asked eight companies to pay up Rs one crore as cost for restoration of ecology.
A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice B N Kirpal, Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat directed Malhotra Book Depot (MBD) and Coca Cola to pay Rs 30 lakh each, Pepsi - Rs 15 lakh, Grasim and Fena - Rs 10 lakh each, Amaron batteries Rs 2.5 lakh and State bank of India and Sleepwell Rs 1.25 lakh each.
While asking the costs to be deposited within ten days, the Bench sought response to the show cause notice by October 11, and posted the matter for further hearing on October 22.
The Bench, taking serious view of the defacement of eco-fragile rocks of Himalayan range on the Rohtang-Manali stretch as pointed out by Solicitor General Harish Salve and Central Empowered Committee, had proposed a Rs five crore corpus for eco-restoration and had imposed cost of Rs one crore on Himachal Pradesh Government for neglecting its duty to protect ecology.
The Bench directed the money to be deposited with the Central Empowered Committee headed by Environment and Forest Secretary P V Jaikrishnan and asked it to immediately find out the agency which could do the restoration job.
It also asked the Committee to find out as to who were the other delinquent companies who had indulged in the painting of rocks in violation of the Forest laws.