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World Environment Day: First to create climate change department, Gujarat now has no use of it

By Our Representative
Gujarat's civil society has taken strong exception to failure of the Gujarat government to have a State Action Plan, a requirement for every state under a Government of India direction. In statement, two NGOs, Paryavaran Mitra and Janvikas, on the eve of the World Environment Day, which falls on June 5, have said that not only is there no climate change website of the state government despite the fact that it claimed to be the first to have a separate department, it has not yet prepared the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) to submission to the Centre for further action. Worse, the state government has still not set up Climate Change Trust Fund, which was announced two years ago and even finances were set aside for it.
The statement says, “States that have published their respective State action plan on climate change which are endorsed by the National Steering Committee on Climate Change are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal have formulated the plans.” All this is happening against the backdrop of the fact that Gujarat has claimed to not only first in India but in entire Asia to set up such a department, with chief minister Narendra Modi writing a book on climate change: Convenient Action: Gujarat’s Response to Challenges of Climate Change’, suggesting how keen he was on the subject.
The statement claims, “Due to the climate change there has been a variation in the summer and winter season as well as irregularities in the rainfall which has a direct impact and effect on the food production. Gujarat has witnessed in the previous 10 years very good rainfall. Yet, the Socio-economic Review of the Gujarat government for 2012-13 admits that in 2010-11 food grain production in Gujarat was 1,00,71,000 tonnes, while in 2011-12 it reduced to 92,57,000 tonnes. This shows that 8,14,000 tonnes of food grain production reduced within one year. The state is also facing severe problem of malnutrition and the International Food Policy Research Institute has reported that Gujarat has food insecurity levels from 0.621-0.776, making it a food insecure state.”
The following table tells the truth:
Crop
Area
(‘000 Hectares)
Production
(‘000 Tonnes)
% (+)/(-) Over
previous year
2010-11 2011-12 2010-11 2011-12 Area Production
Rice 808 836 1666 1790 3.09 7.44
Wheat 1589 1351 5013 4072 -14.98 -18.77
Jowar 126 124 139 140 -1.59 0.72
Bajra 873 866 1501 1612 -0.69 7.40
Total Foodgrains 4905 4735 10071 9257 -3.47 -8.08
Cotton(*) 2623 3003 9825 10375 14.49 5.60
Groundnut 1922 1686 3575 2717 -12.28 -24.00
Total Oil Seeds 3110 3130 5142 5035 0.64 -2.08
* In lakh bales
The statement says, the “state claims that 2000 MW electricity is surplus, but as per the census of 2011 there are eleven lakh households that do not have electricity. “Shialbet village near Jafrabad is in darkness. The village does not have the benefit of wind or solar energy. In Kutch, in the outskirts of Surajbari area, the hub of wind energy, there are villages there which also do not have electricity. Even the CAG annual report states that Rs.133.35 crore from Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna had remained unutilized.” 
In the meanwhile, the statement said, the Gujarat government has been favouring land grabbing for the industrial houses. “In Mundra, Kutch, the land has been given for setting up Mundra SEZ, which would affect 3,200 families. Mundra SEZ land has been valued and paid at Rs 6 per sq yard whereas the value of the land is actually more than Rs15 lakhs per acre. Gujarat state has a proposal for construction of 225 km long road in Kutch which would affect the Wild Ass Sanctuary and Flamingo city. The breeding site of flamingos would therefore be affected.”
In fact, there is “growing pressure on the land. Due to the liberal policies of land acquisition major industries in Gujarat are provided with agricultural land. Six large industrial projects of 1990s – Essar in Surat, Dahej Chemical in Vagra in Bharuch, Sanghi Cement in Abdasa, Ambuja Cement Ltd in Amreli, GEB Thermal Power Plant in Lakhpat in Kachchh, and Ankleshwar Industrial Estate in Ankleshwar in Bharuch, a total of 10,500 hectares of land from about 32 villages were acquired.Tata Nano Plant at Sanand was given 1,100 acre land. In addition to this 450 acre land to Ford and 150 acre to Ford Vendor was also given.”
It added, “At present there are 16 SEZ in Gujarat out of which three are functional and 13 are notified and operational, covering an area of 17,295 hectares, again acquired from farmers.” In fact, industries are being helped by destroying environment. “By allotting the land for the Adani Group Port and SEZ in Mundra, 75 hectares of mangrove land near Bocha Island has been destroyed which was declared as a conservation zone.”
“Projects are being implemented without taking care of the displaced, such as the Sabarmati River Front. The Mahatma Mandir project was set up in Gandhinagar, which served as the venue for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, though without the environmental clearance. A post facto environmental clearance was taken for the project. In Ahmedabad 12 shopping malls in 2005 started the business without any environmental clearance”, the statement reads.
Further in Gujarat “at present there are 28 operational and 8 proposed common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) and eight common and 13 individual (private) ones”, the statement says, adding, “et, as per the 2011 CAG report in Gujarat neither of the CETP are working as per the laid down norms. Near Surat there is GEPIL’s common landfill site, wherein the untreated effluent is directly being discharged into the sea, due to which numerous buffaloes and fishes have died. GPCB has closed this site.”
“In Vapi, common landfill site has been damaged due to which tonnes of toxic waste run off in the rivers and sea, affecting the marine life. In effluent channel project (VECL) passing through Padra, the polluted and untreated effluent is discharged into the estuaries of Mahisagar at Bharuch. As per the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) notification and National Institute Oceanography experts discharge point to be extended into the deep sea”, the statement says.

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