Skip to main content

Allowing Nirma cement plant in Gujarat, Green Tribunal wants "wise use" of wetlands for "development"

By Our Representative
In a major boost to projects like Nirma Cement Plant, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) quotes the well-known Ramsar Convention to justify why even a wetland could be used for "development". Pointing towards the use of words "wise use", the NGT quotes the Ramsay Declaration as saying, “The issue of conservation of wetlands worldwide vis-a-vis development was taken cognizance of by the international community in Ramsar Convention in the following words: ‘Wetland should be conserved by ensuring their wise use'."
Even as allowing Nirma to continue with its cement project along a water body at Mahua in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, the NGT says, "Wise use is defined as ‘sustainable utilization for the benefit of mankind in a way compatible that the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem’. Sustainable utilization is understood as human use of wetland so that it may yield the continuous benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.”
In what can be further termed as of significance for other projects like Nirma wanting to set up projects along water bodies, the NGT directed two top government bodies to study for two years how how to do “wise use” water bodies. 
Thus, it said, in its order dated January 14, that the Samdiyala Bandhara -- where the Nirma Cement Plant is being allowed -- to be “monitored” and “studied" for two years on the commencement of the project” by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), “in conjunction with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The "monitoring" and the "study", interestingly, would be carried out in close alliance of the Nirma Group, which is setting up the project. The NGT said, the GPCB and the CPCB would be financially supported by the industrial group, adding, though, “Liberty is granted to GPCB and CPCB to take assistance of such expert body/institution in the field of environmental monitoring of water bodies.”
Even as providing this conceptual framework for allowing the Nirma Cement Plant -- which was set aside by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under the previous UPA government citing it would harm a "wetland" -- the NGT insists, the Samdiyala Bandhara is not a wetland at all, as claimed by the previous MoEF. 
It says, it is actually “a temporary storage of water, which gets used by farmers or gets evaporated due to its large spread, or gets percolated due to fairly high porosity of soil and as such cannot be called as a productive wetland having all perennial features of a wetland.”
With powers equal to a high court, the NGT said, “The revenue records described the area in question as a ‘wasteland’ and it was never, even till today, identified as wetland by the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority and so notified by the Central Government under the provisions of the Act for the purposes of Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2010.” 
Hence, there was no "deliberate concealment and or submission of false or misleading information or data to the authorities according environmental clearance”, as argued by the MoEF.
In fact, the NGT praises the Nirma offer before the Gujarat High Court to “recompense” 100 hectares of land, 80 per cent of which was under submergence“, even as “deepening certain portion of the land and channelizing the storm water towards the water body.” 
Further: “We have also noticed that the project proponent have given up Captive Power Plant and Coke Oven Plant and the project is designed not to discharge any effluent or any material in the water body created by Samdiyala Bandhara.”
Pointing out these factors were “not fully taken into account” by the MoEF while rejecting the Nirma contention, the NGT said, he ministry decision was based on the the false premise that it was a wetland, reached by the Prof Babu Committee. 
“Prof Babu Committee recommended classification of the land in question as ‘wetland’ and ‘water body’ and observed that it had manifold ecological utility besides helping recharge of ground water, sustain rich biodiversity, provide pastures and support settlements and as such common property resource”, the NGT said.
The NGT added, “Revocation of the environmental clearance mainly proceeded on the premise that the environmental clearance accorded was founded on undisclosed and incorrect postulates mainly as regards the character of the land in question recognized by the Prof Babu committee as a wetland.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
This is as absurd a judgment as it can get when all their makers are paid highest possible bribes to come up with an outcome in favour of these private companies fully supported by modi government! Only god can save our wetlands and livelihoods of those who depend on them from such corrupt decision makers and businessmen running the government in our country!

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

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".

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.