Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Inertia on Central report on eco-destruction prompts Adanis to say ship recycling "not in eco-fragile zone"

Land reclamation at Mundra
By Our Representative
Gujarat’s most powerful industrial house, Adani Group, has declared that the proposed ship recycling facility to be set up next to the Mundra Port does “not fall in any eco-fragile zone”, nor has it received any instructions from the Government of India regarding objections raised by the committee headed by top environmentalist Sunita Narain’s report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which has charged the Adanis with serious violations of environmental norms by the group along the sea coast of Mundra in the recent past.
The statement – which suggests increasing confidence in the group that the environmentalists will not be able to harm their business interests – comes amidst increasing view among Gujarat-based environmentalists that the Government of India (GoI) or the state government are not doing enough to stall Adanis’ movement towards destruction of mangroves forest, haphazard reclamation land by “removing” half-a-dozen creeks, useful for fishery activities, and kick-starting construction of certain facilities at Mundra Port and SEZ ahead of GoI environmental clearance.
The Adanis’ tough defense of the proposed ship recycling facility has been made in a letter by Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra, which has made an important representation against the ship recycling project before the Environmental Public Hearing held in Mundra on July 30. Justifying reclamation, the Adanis said in the letter, “It is important to mention that the proposed project area is developed on land which is reclaimed as part of the West Port development as approved under the Water Front Development Project of the MoEF.” Significantly, “reclaimed” land leading is also a major point of contention by the Sunita Naraian committee against the Adanis.
The statement claims, the location has been “cleared” by the MoEF, saying, “Location considered for the proposed project is well within the operational areas of the Adani Port and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZL). This aspect was discussed with the MoEF and accordingly finalized…” It does not stop at that. As for concern regarding waste disposal for treatment at the ship recycling unit, it underlines, “APSEZL is member of the Nandesari Environment Control Ltd (NECL) as well as Saurashtra Enviro Projects Pvt Ltd (SEPPL). We will give preference for sending wastes to SEPPL.”
Pointing out that “all care will be taken” for the environment, the Adanis further claim, they will be using “newer technology in the ship recycling industry which will certainly be helpful to change the image of practices being followed in breaking activities”. They add, the project will in fact “contribute” to “economic development, employment generation, infrastructure growth, income generation, improvement in quality of living standard”, especially of the “fishermen and their families by providing all kinds of support to sustain their livelihood” – all of which are a matter of major criticism by the local social organizations and NGOs.
The statement has sounded alarm bells among NGOs and social organizations, as they feel it only suggests how lukewarm the MoEF and the state government have been to their concern over the destruction to the environment caused by the Adanis in the region while construction the port, the SEZ facility and the power unit. Sounding the alarm, Paryavaran Mitra has shot a strong letter asking the MoEF to implement the recommendations of the Sunita Narain committee and not grant environmental clearance to the proposed ship recycling project. The letter says, in accordance with the committee’s assessment urgent steps should be taken to “repair the damage and harm done by the company” and also take “prompt legal action” against it.
The letter, written by Mahesh Pandya, particularly expresses concern that the Adanis have still not heard anything from the MoEF on the Sunita Narain committee. It quotes the Adanis’ letter as saying that till date they “have not received any communication from MOEF regarding the committee report.” It regrets, “The committee submitted its report in April 2013, and in spite of our repeated request for implementation of the committee report, neither the MoEF nor the state government has taken any action against the company till date.”
While expressing his dismay, Pandya emphasizes, “The company has been a habitual violator of environmental laws and already has adversely impacted environment at the coast of Mundra, which has suffered a lot in the past and will continue to do so with such industrial activities. In view of the above and the company’s background, I request you not to grant environmental clearance to such disastrous project and take legal action against the company at the earliest.”

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