Thursday, June 01, 2017

Govt of India withdraws Mithi Virdi N-power project in Gujarat, blames delay in land acquisition, villagers rejoice

People walk out of environmental hearing for N-project in 2013
By Our Representative
It is official, finally. The Minisry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that that the 6000 MW nuclear project at Mithivirdi, District Bhavnagar, Gujarat, has been abandoned, and has been “shifted” to Kovadda, Andhra Pradesh on account of "delay" in land acquisition at the village Chhaya-Mithivirdi site.
Counterview had reported exactly a year ago (June 2, 2016) that a decision was taken by Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric, which was to build the nuclear plant in South Saurashtra coast of Gujarat not to go ahead with the project in view of local opposition. Westinghouse's decision came a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit the US.
The withdrawal of the nuclear plant has created a wave of happiness among the villagers around Mithi Virdi. They have decided to together on June 2 in village Jaspara to celebrate and congratulate each other for it. 
Protest against Mithi Virdi N-project
The villagers had gone to the NGT on March 3,  2015 challenging the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance given to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the Government of India undertaking, for the project. 
An communique issued by top Gujarat environmentalist Rohit Prajapati following the development quotes AR Anilkumar, executive director, NPCIL as sayingthat the proposal for “Environment Clearance (EC) before MoEFCC has been "delisted.” MOEFCC director Arvind Kumar Nautiyal has given a similar opinion, it adds.
The villagers’ victory comes four years after nearly 7,000 of them en masse walk-out of the Environmental Public Hearing (EPH) for the project, which took place on March 5, 2013, alleging that it was being conducted in “blatant contravention of the environmental laws and natural justice.” 
The walkout took place after the district collector, Bhavnagar, who chaired EPH, disallowed the leaders and sarpanches of the affected villages from raising issues of concern. Within no time, people started walking out. The pandal was emptied and only media persons, government and NPCIL staff was left in the huge pandal.
Subsequently, the proposed project was recommended for CRZ clearance by the Gujarat State Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA). The National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) cleared the CRZ on March 3, 2015, which prompted the villagers to approach NGT.
Those who went to the NGT included Shaktisinh H Gohil, Jagrutiben B. Gohil of Jaspara village, Hajabhai G Dihora of MithVirdi, and environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara.
On March 27, 2017, through a letter from the MoEFCC, the Government of India intimated the NGT that the proposed Westinghouse Nuclear Power Plant of 6000 MW was being “shifted” from Mithi Virdi due to “delay in land acquisition.”
In its order dated May 18, the NGT bench, consisting of judicial member (Justice UD Salvi) and expert member (Ranjan Chatterjee), noted that Nautiyal, director of MoEFCC, had submitted that the project at Mithi Virdhi, in whose favour CRZ clearance was granted, “is to be shifted to Kavvada, Andhra Pradesh on account of delay in land acquisition at village Chhaya- Mithivirdhi site”, hence the project does not survive and the matter is disposed of.
Taking credit for the development PSS’ Krishnakant has said, “We pushed out Westinghouse Nuclear Plant from Mithi Virdi area”, adding, “One struggle is over but anther struggle is on and people of the Mithi Virdi area have decided to extent all support and they will be part of the struggle with the people of Kovadda.”

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