Monday, March 30, 2015

Gujarat villagers, environmentalists oppose coastal zone nod to Mithi Virdi nuclear plant

A farmland off Alang shipbreaking yard
By Our Representative
Two separate letters, one by senior Vadodara-based environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, and the other by local village heads, have strongly opposed the recent coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance to the proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. The letters say, the minutes of the 144th meeting of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India (January 28-30, 2015) are "totally vague” about the reasons for offering the nod.
The second letter, containing nearly the same content the first one, has been signed, among others, by Shaktisinh H Gohil, sarpanch, Jaspara village; Samuben Hirabhai Dabhi, sarpanch, Mithi Virdi village; Vilasba Dharmendrasinh Gohil, sarpanch, Mandva village; and Pruthvirajsinh.M. Gohil, sarpanch, Khadarpar village. The first letter has been signed by Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai.
“The CRZ rules mandate that EAC should have visited the site and consulted the local villagers who stand to be affected by the proposed project, which according to the local villagers as well as the local panchayats, never happened”, the letters, written to EAC chairman Anil Razdan, adding, “Neither the local villagers nor public have any knowledge as to what basis the EAC recommended the CRZ clearance.”
Pointing out that the CRZ clearance has been claimed to have been given because a “groyne-based channel type seawater intake system” has been proposed “with the sump at the shore”, the letters say, “A detailed study considering the impact of the groyne on the long-shore drift of sediments and the likely pattern of erosion/accretion that may result has yet to be conducted, without which CRZ clearance should not be granted.”
Worse, the letters say, the minutes are “silent about the potential danger posed to the coastal environment by the project's proximity to Alang Sosiya Ship Breaking Yard, functioning on stretches over 10 km in the immediate vicinity of the proposed nuclear power plant. “In fact, parts of the Yard fall within the Village Jaspara, one of the villages whose land is to be acquired by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), the Government of India body which is implementing the project.
“The entire coastal area adjacent to the Yard is contaminated with solid, liquid, gaseous and hazardous waste including paint chips, asbestos, oily sludge, used/spent oil, toxic chemicals, radioactive waste, PCBs and ACMs”, the letters point out, adding, “The comprehensive impact of the Mithi Virdi Project on an already critically-polluted coastal area with high ecological value has not been taken into account by the EAC in its recommendation for CRZ clearance.”
The letters further say, “In all, 152 villages with a population of more than 200,000 in 30 km radius of the proposed nuclear power plant will be adversely affected by the project… The extraction of fresh water by the proposed plant and its impact on the local agriculture-dependent economy has not been mentioned in the consideration for CRZ.”
The letters demand that that the EAC should “immediately withdraw its recommendation for the CRZ clearance, as it has failed to take into consideration crucial components related to the coastal environment at Mithi Virdi area”, adding, at the same time, the EAC should make public all the details including the study for the proposed nuclear power plant, the documents such as the main application of the NPCIL for CRZ clearance, the reasons for which it recommends CRZ clearance, and so on.
They simultaneously demand that all citizens, particularly the residents and local bodies at Mithi Virdi area, are given at least a month’s time to register their response to the CRZ clearance recommendation as mandated by the law.

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