Skip to main content

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.
It also “advised” KPT, renamed as Deendayal Port Trust (DPT) after late saffron leader Deendayal Upadhyay, to “stop all prohibited activities immediately in coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) area and restore the pre-conditions by removing bunds and obstruction made to stop the free flow of water”, which were found to have resulted in the destruction of the mangroves.
It asked DTP, which handles about 14% of major port traffic of India, to “cancel” all such leases for salt producers “with immediate effect” which fall under CRZ category 1-A area, “classified as ecologically sensitive area as per CRZ notification”, even as preparing a “restoration plan” for the impacted and surrounding areas, submit it to NGT “within a fortnight.”
Asking the Gujarat forest department to “take immediate action to restore the mangroves which are damaged within a period of six months”, the NGT order, dated September 11, said, within one month it should ensure “recovery of environmental damage and cost of restoration of mangroves damaged”.
The NGT order follows a plea by Bhikhabhai Rabari, from Jangi village, Bhachau Taluka, Kutch district, belonging to the NGO Kutch Camel Breeders Association’s (KCBA), against concerned officials of the Gujarat and Government of India, as also DPT, and two salt manufacturing units on the destruction of mangroves.
In his plea, represented through advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, Rabari alleged that there has been a “blatant violation” of the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 as well as the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, by “rampant clearing of the mangroves” in Nani Chirai and Moti Chirai areas of Bhachau taluka in Kutch district by DPT.
These areas are known to be a habitat of indigenous Kharai camel, which live on mangroves. The rare camel species, numbering around 400, are a major source of livelihood for several hundred camel breeders of the region.
DPT is said to have allotted the areas falling under CRZ-I, which are under their control, for the extraction of salt, resulting in destruction of mangroves due to obstructions raised in the creeks without any permission of the Competent Authorities under CRZ Notification, 2011.
Though “multiple communications” were sent to DPT as well as the district collector, Kutch, as also other concerned officials, reminding them of the “blatant destruction of mangroves, which are habitat of 400 Kharai camels”, there was “no response”.
The activities “continued” despite the fact that, in a report, Dr Ashok Kumar Saxena, member-secretary, Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC), had warned, in a letter to the Kutch district collector, as also senior environment officials of Government of Gujarat and India, that there is large-scale destruction of mangroves at Nani Chirai and Moti Chirai areas of Bhachau Taluka.
Responding to Rabari’s plea, the DPT advocate said that the Kandla Port Water Front land had a length of about 110 km, and due to “acute shortage of staff and more particularly due to inaccessibility by vehicles to the some of these areas, it is practically not possible for the DPT staff to monitor these lands on regular basis.”
Claiming that the region “is disputed as to whether this land belongs to the DPT or the Government of Gujarat (revenue land)”, DPT further said, “As such, is no clearly demarcated boundaries of lands belonging to DPT and those belonging to the state government”, blaming destruction of mangroves on “encroachers.”
The NGT order preceded an NGT-sponsored inspection of the site on April 13, 2018 by officials of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which found “pans for salt farming and land levelled at several places which resulted in blocking of minor creeks i.e., obstruction of flow of sea water and destruction of the mangroves”, adding, mangroves would have “dried due to blocking of free flow of water in minor creeks.”
Also, following a representation of the Kutch Camel Breeders’ Association, a sub-committee, constituted by the district collector, Kutch, and headed by the deputy conservator of forest (DCF), Kutch, said that activities in the area resulted in destruction of mangroves habitats and removal of mangroves in an area of about 750 acres.
The sub-committee added, of the 750 acres, 250 acres area could be categorized as moderately dense mangroves and balance 500 acres can be classified as moderately dense mangroves and balance 500 acres can be classified as open mangrove (sparse mangrove).
It recommended stopping all the activities immediately to restore free flow water in the creeks/creek lets by removing all earthen bunds/roads, insisting, since the area falls under CRZ category I-A, all the leases should be cancelled with immediate effect and legality should be followed. It also sought a restoration plan.

Comments

Uma said…
In spite of overwhelming evidence, our politicians across the board ignore environmental issues just to garner votes specially when elections are approaching. In Bombay something similar is happening except that the protests are loud and clear and well before the damage is done. Of course, the government may still go ahead with the lies and the damaging project, specially when they have supporters like Amitabh Bacchan ignoring the hoi-polloi. We can only wait and keep our fingers crossed.

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

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.