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Protests against environment assessment report on N-plant by unaccredited body yields result

Protest against public hearing for N-plant
 By Our Representative
Representations and protests against the environment impact assessment (EIA) report by an unaccredited body, of the proposed nuclear plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district in Gujarat, are starting to have an impact. The Union ministry of environment and forests, taking cognizance of the representation from the Parayavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Gujarat, against the project, as also from other "persons, organizations, institutions", has sought clarification from PB Rastogi, director, expert appraisal committee (EAC), Nuclear Power Projects. It wants "necessary action" be taken in case the environmental public hearing (EPH) for EIA was held on March 5.
"It is requested that the matter may kindly be looked into on priority", the letter says, adding, "It may also be clarified whether ElA is prepared by the accredited or non-accredited consultant." Meanwhile, in a followup, the PSS has written to Rastogi to also seek explanation from district collector, Bhavnagar, VP Patel, and regional officer A V Shah of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board for the violation of the basic norms of EPH and the casual manner of taking minutes on it.
"The minutes of the EPH are not in the standard format as they are usually prepared. Instead, they read like a news report, with the proceedings summarized instead of reporting every detail in minutes’ format. The most glaring omission from the minutes of the EPH for instance is the complete omission of the fact that the additional district collector was sitting on dais next to the Bhavnagar district collector who had convened the EPH, which is strictly against the rules", the fresh letter from PSS says, adding, "Additional district collector can sit on dais and chair the EPH if the collector deputes him/her in absence of the collector."
The PSS letter further says, "We can understand that presence of police force, private security guards are not mentioned but presence of several other people sitting on dais is also not mentioned in the minutes, e.g. company officials and others who we could not recognise. Actually, the minutes of the public hearing proceedings should accurately reflect all the views and concerns expressed during the EPH. This is a gross violation of the EIA Notification, 2006."
The PSS said, "This is also to put on record the coercive and terror filled environment in which the EPH was held, to prevent the villagers’ from making free and fair representation. Not only heavy posse of police force but also private security guards were hired at the EPH site, frisking and checking every entrant, and at places questioning villagers and participants about their antecedents."
Written by Krishnakant, Rohit Prajapati and Swati Desai of PSS, it added, "The unnecessary barricades and iron wire fencing between the collector’s dais and the participants area, a first ever arrangement during the EPH in recent times in Gujarat. This has created an atmosphere of coercive tactics that invoked state control and fear over the proceedings of grave public concern."
It recalled, "The collector allowed songs and recordings in favour of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and benefits of nuclear power plant to be broadcast from the public address system arranged by the collectorate. These recordings continued to be played till the EPH proceedings began formally. This is a clear violation of the neutral approach that the collector should have taken on the issue and instead made clear his predisposition on behalf of the NPCIL."

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