Maruti Suzuki has been having a tough time off late. First it ran into problems with the proposed manufacturing facility in Gujarat and now, the Haryana government has stalled the construction of the research and development facility in Rohtak. The company, however, has sought to clarify that work at the Rohtak centre has just ‘slowed down’ and not stopped.
The Haryana government has stated in its complaint with the Delhi High Court that Maruti Suzuki has not obtained the needed environmental clearance for the project and that the company has also already started construction without completing the requisites. This is a result of the policy devised by the former environment and forest minster, Jayanthi Natarajan. The policy requires that industries seek an environmental clearance for building any structure of over 20,000 square metres. The Rs 3,500-crore-plus R&D project, built over 600 acres, was expected to be operational by 2015, but is now on hold as the state government has initiated prosecution against the company under the Environment Protection Act of 1986.
This plant in Rohtak, Haryana, is a major part of Maruti Suzuki’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. This is the first research and development facility of Maruti’s parent company, Suzuki Motors, to be based outside Japan. It will be used to develop and test cars for India and the world. Over the next 3-4 years, this facility is expected to significantly contribute in new vehicle development, helping Maruti earn royalties from sales overseas after years of paying SMC for technology. With these legal tangles Maruti might find themselves in bit of a spot.
The company officials are trying to skirt the issue stating that the matter is subjudice. Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava has been quoted as saying, “The matter is subjudice. It has been going on for a while.” Going ahead with the work, the company had ordered the influx of staff from its Gurgaon plant to the new Rohtak site and more long-term plans are also in the pipeline.
Another official said: “Initially the state environment department told us that we would need environment clearance only from the Phase II of the project, but later they said even the work already done under Phase I would be included. That created the problem. We can work till a certain point, so it would be incorrect to stay work has completely stopped.”
Maruti Suzuki is now hoping that an amendment to the environmental rules and regulations that were made by the previous government could be answer to their problems.