Skip to main content

NHRC order: Dilemma on environmental hearing of top Gujarat refinery unit


By Our Representative

Does the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) appear not too keen to ensure postponement of the proposed environmental public hearings (EPH) of Gujarat’s top petroleum refinery, owned by Nayara Energy (formerly Essar-owned), seeking its unit’s expansion in two of Gujarat districts, Jamnagar and Devbhumi Dwarka? 
It would seem so if its latest "order" to authorities in reaction to Gujarat’s environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra's complaint to NHRC on July 14 about on the need to postpone EPH is any indication. NGO had wanted the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to postpone EPH in view of the Covid-19 crisis. First scheduled for July 28-29, but was later postponed to August 28-29.
In its "order" dated August 24 to Gujarat chief secretary Anil Mukim, NHRC has sought “necessary action” against concerned officers for the decision of GPCB to hold EPH. Ironically, the "order" says, Mukim could take “necessary action within eight weeks” – several weeks after EPH is scheduled! 
When contacted, Paryavaran Mitra director Mahesh Pandya, aghast by the NHRC reply, regretted, this suggests EPH would be held as scheduled, despite the Covid-19 threat. “We have urgently emailed to NHRC citing this discrepancy, asking it to tell Gujarat authorities to order cancellation of EPH”, he told Counterview, adding, “We have also asked the collectors of the two districts and the chief secretary to cancel EPH in view of the pandemic.”
Sources in the know of things say, the way NHRC has been functioning lately suggests it is unlikely respond to the latest email so quickly seeking urgent order to postpone EPH for August 28-29. “Despite the pandemic, EPH for different industrial units in Gujarat -- in Morbi, Padra and Jamnagar -- have been held, with officialdom caring little whether such these would lead to the spread of infection”, Pandya said.
In his complaint to NHRC chairperson Justice HL Dattu, Pandya had said that the Nayara Energy, is already operating a 20 MMTPA refinery complex at Vadinar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Gujarat, and has a strong retail network of about 4,900 fuel stations catering to different parts of the country, with plans to expand the network with about 2600 more retail stations.
Nayara refinery
“The proposed petroleum refinery expansion project will affect many villages, impacting the lives and livelihood of thousands of villagers (poor and marginalised) and will have adverse effect on human rights and environmental consequences”, the complaint said, listing villages which are likely to be affected.
These are Zankhar, Mithoi, Rasangpar, Khatiya Beraja, Lakhiya Nana, Lakhiya Mota, Rangpar, Meghpar, Jogvad, Singach, Modpar, Padana, Gagva, and Moti Khavdi, all in Jamnagar district; and Timbdi, KathiDevaliya, Kajurda, Sumra Taradhari, Nana Mandha, Nana Ambla, Mota Ambla, Vadinar, Bharana, Vadaliya Sinhan and Sakhpar in Devbhumi Dwarka district.
The complaint said, EPH would be a violation of the “ban/restrictions” that have been imposed by the Government of India and the Gujarat government in view of the pandemic situation, citing relevant notifications, stating, public gathers have been “restricted”, and EPH for such a big company as Nayara Energy would attract hundreds of people.
Calling the proposed EPH of Nayara Energy a violation of the right to life and right to health, the complaint underlined, “Public hearings are an essential features of human rights participation. The right to information and community participation for the protection of the environment and human health is based upon Article 21 of the Constitution of India, i.e. the basic human right to life.”
“The concern and fear of contracting Covid-19 at a public hearing will negate the term and purpose of public hearing thereby violating the human right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”, Pandya asserted, adding, “The Covid-19 crisis has placed a spotlight on the crucial role that protecting and promoting human rights (that includes environmental protection) is part of the urgent crisis response.”

Comments

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

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.

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

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".

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example