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Environmental NGO 'forces' Gujarat govt to postpone public hearing of Nayara Energy

Mahesh Pandya (right)
By Our Representative
Gujarat’s top environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra has claimed success for forcing the Gujarat government to postpone environmental public hearings (EPHs), which were scheduled for July 28-29 in Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka district, for Nayara Energy Ltd. The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had announced the dates for the hearings for the expansion of Nayara Energy’s plant, located between the two districts, last month.
Paryavaran Mitra director Mahesh Pandya said, he had made the representation against the backdrop of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, which has now become an all-Gujarat phenomenon, and Saurashtra regions, which include the two districts in question. Citing the Unlock 2.0 guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, Pandya insisted, they clearly prohibit public gatherings, adding, thousands are known to gather in such hearings.
In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, Pandya had said, on June 25 he had drawn the attention of the Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka district collectors, as also senior GPCB officials towards the need to postpone the hearing, yet no action was taken. “Our experience suggests that during such hearings anywhere between 50 and 5,000 people participate”, the letter added.
“Even in a tragic event like the death of a person only 20 persons are allowed to remain present”, the letter said, adding, “During wedding, only 50 people are allowed to.” Against this backdrop, the NGO had asked the chief minister to direct the GPCB, which comes under the state environment, forest and climate change department, to stop the hearing, as, among other things, it “violated” the state home department order issued on June 30 on public gatherings.
Anand Yagnik
Update: Meanwhile, local villagers of Devbhumi Dwarka district have claimed that Paryavaran Mitra is not alone claiming for the postponement of the public hearing. In a letter to Pandya, sarpanch, Kanchanpur village panchayat under Jam Khambhaliya taluka, with a copy to Counterview, said, it would be wrong to say that he is not alone in taking the credit for the postponement.
The letter said, the villagers had represented to the authorities, including to the member-secretary, GPCB, fseveral times between July 16 and 23, 2020 for postponing the public hearing, adding, this was done with "strong support" from senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anand Yagnik, who had filed also a petition against the efforts of Nayara Energy to bypass public hearing for the plant's expansion.   

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