Skip to main content

Green Tribunal puts Pipavav Port's expansion plan in abeyance, rejects environmental clearance by MoEF

Pipavav port seen from Shiyalbet
By Our Representative
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which is supposed to settle disputes arising out of environmental clearances (EC) granted to developmental projects, has set aside the environmental clearance (EC) granted for expansion of the Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd, one of the two major private ports on Gujarat coast. EC was given by the Ministry Environment and Forests (MoEF) following a report by the Expert Appraisal Committee (AEC), which operates under it. The NGT has asked the MoEF to make a complete reassessment of the expansion project and complete all the formalities afresh.
The order, passed by tribunal headed by NGT’s judicial member Justice VR Kindaonkar, says the project be kept “in abeyance” for six months, adding, during this period the authorities should find out measures adopted by “other such ports located elsewhere in the country for avoiding the adverse impact on environment and the surrounding area.” The proponents, Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd (GPPL) – owned by APM Terminals Mauritius Ltd as the largest shareholder – had announced they would spend Rs 1,097 crore in the project. If implemented, it would mean a three times rise in cargo handling and eight times rise in container handling.
The NGT judgment, even as putting the project in abeyance, said several questions, raised at the public hearing for the project, which took place in 2011, had remained unanswered. These relate to livelihood of the residents of nearby areas, particularly Shiyalbet, an island-village which does not have any infrastructure facilities. Its residents are even denied access to road. Then, there are issues related with pollution caused by dredging during project expansion, and agriculturists’ concern on coal dusting due to handling of the cargos at the port, causing damage to crops and trees in the nearby area.
The NGT gave example of how concerns of people, expressed during the public hearing, have remained unaddressed. “Mayabhai Vallabhai raised question regarding coal dust generated due to handling/transportation from the port. No response appears to have been given by the project proponent to the said query. Gondalia Vipul Bansidas raised question regarding proper amenities for Shiyalbet. The response to such question is vague. Queries raised by Babubhai Vallabhai about road access remained unanswered”.
The NGT regretted, the MoEF’s order granting EC is merely reproduced “a part of the letter of recommendation of the EAC”, which “does not show independent evaluation… The EAC did not evaluate the correctness of responses given by the project proponent to the written representations made by the members of the public during course of the public hearing. The EAC did not take into account the problem of the inhabitants of Shiyalbet island.”
The NGT further said, “Perusal of the EC order shows that there was no independent application of mind by the MoEF to the material placed before it and report of the EAC. The order shows that the EAC had sought additional clarifications from the project proponent. Obviously, it was clear that the EAC was not satisfied at the initial stage after the public hearing was held and as such decided to call for further information by issuance of modified terms of reference (ToR).”
Favouring the need for development, modernization and expansion of the port project, the NGT referred to the example of how ports at Chennai, Vishakapatnam, Bombay Dockyard, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, etc. have tried to overcome environmental issues. Based on these, the NGT asked the MoEF to “examine whether the expansion can be granted after laying down certain stringent conditions to take care of the environmental impact due to the expansion and modernization of the port. For example, the Chennai Port is being run with modern techniques.”
The NGT said, “As a part of pollution control measures, the Chennai port has installed wind curtains made of ultraviolet resistant fabric along the harbour’s beach front for over 1.5 km to the east of the coal terminal to prevent wind carrying coal dust into the city.” It has also installed “a semi-mechanized closed coal conveyor system. The conveyor belt runs at an elevation of 10-13 m and has provision for longitudinal movement along the road to the plots and transverse movement for stacking coal at individual plots. The coal discharged into the hoppers located at the two docks is conveyed to coal plots through conveyors or tripper cars and is equipped with belt weigher.”
The MoEF granted environmental clearance (EC) to allow the project to go ahead on June 5, 2012 based on recommendations first from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and then its own EAC. Dissatisfied, two local non-government organizations (NGOs), Gauchar Paryavaran Bachav Trust and Gau Raxa Hitraxak Manch approached the NGT.
Senior advocate Ritwick Dutta appeared before the NGT, and forwarded following arguments:
· The expansion and modernization project is much in excess and will adversely affect the mangrove forest, migratory bird habitats, and various species of wild fauna.
· The GPPL has encroached on gauchar land village grazing land which will cause adverse impact on the livestock and livelihood of the villagers.
· The expansion project would lead to a situation where groundwater available to the villagers will also be adversely impacted, salinity of the land in the villages around the port will increase, and the crops will be adversely affected.
· Coal dust generated due to movement of the carriage vehicles will be disproportionately increasing, and it will cause health hazard to the villagers residing in the surrounding areas.
· Beneficial activities like provision for medical facilities, health care facilities and employment to the villagers have not been considered by the GPPL.
· The area should be free from unsustainable activities because the surrounding area of the project site is the habitat of endangered species like lions, leopards, etc. Lions have been cited in Rajula taluka near the project site.
· There is lack of adequate of road capacity and connectivity to those living in Shiyalbet, a small island village nearbly, which will further deteriorate.

Comments

TRENDING

What's behind public sector banks showing huge profits in 2nd quarter of 2022-23?

By Thomas Franco*  The quarter two results of the public sector banks (PSBs) appear to be noteworthy compared to a few years ago. All these banks showed good profits in the financial year 2021-22. Twelve PSBs made a net profit of Rs 25,685 crore in quarter 2 of FY23 and a total of Rs 40,991 crore in the first half of 2023. The combined profit of 12 banks in March 2022 was Rs 66,539 crore which was 110% more than 2021 – Rs. 31,816 crore. The Asset Quality Review of 2015 saw a surge in NPAs of PSBs jumping to Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 from Rs 2.17 lakh crore in March 2014. This was simply because the norms for NPAs were changed from 180 days to 90 days, and all restructuring of even genuine accounts was done away with. In 2018 NPA of SBI was 5.73% which has come down to 0.8% in Q2 of FY23. The NPA of Canara Bank has come down to 2.19% from 7.48% in Mar 2018. The same trend is seen in all public banks. Now SBI has seen a jump of 74% in its net profit, while Canara Bank’s profit is

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures. Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.” Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or household

GoI's productivity linked incentives to corporates 'without independent analysis'

Counterview Desk  Wondering how prudent is the Government of India's (GoI's) Productivity Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, EAS Sarma, former secretary, GoI, in a representation to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister, has said it appears to be nothing more than subsidy to the private sector without any responsibility. Giving a specific example against the backdrop of announcement of 50% subsidy covering the project cost of the Vedanta Group's decision to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in Gujarat, in collaboration with Foxconn, Sarma says, "The total cost of this project is reported to be Rs 1,54,000 crore. 50% of this works out to Rs 77,000 crore." Stating that this creates the impression that the entire subsidy allocation for the semiconductor manufacturing sector would be appropriated by this company, Sarma says, "The Gujarat government did not lag behind in liberally announcing similar incentives for the Vedanta-Foxconn project. It offered 7

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Diminishing returns: Hydro projects contribute less than 10% of India's power generation

Counterview Desk  Pointing out that India’s hydro generation remains around 10% for the last six years, the advocacy group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that power generation from hydropower projects continues to show diminishing returns, as has been the story close to three decades now. Yet, says SANDRP in a note, the Government of India continues to push large hydro by announcing a slew of additional subsidies for hydropower projects, more for political economy reason. In fact, attempts are being made to flog unviable hydropower projects with various kind of manipulations, illegalities and violations, it adds. Text : In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s large hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest,

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.