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Petition for action against Mundra Port and SEZ
Petition for action against OPG Power Project

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Public hearing for OPG Power Project in Bhadreshwar village, 29th May, 2009.

The public hearing for EIA clearance for OPG’s power plant in Bhadreshwar was held on 29th May 2009. The venue was Chokhanda Mandir, Bhadreshwar village, Mundra Taluk. The Gujarat Pollution control Board Regional Officer, J.D.Kalyani and Kutch Additional Collector Shri.Vaghela chaired the meeting. OPG project director Mr.Padmanabhan and company officials were present. Also, officals from Detox corporation, the Surat based agency that carried out the EIA were present.

A huge number of people numbering over 2000 persons from affected villages participated in a 2 km rally which ended in the venue of the public hearing. This included traditional fisherfolk, Salt pan workers, Pastoralists, farmers and other villagers from Bhadreshwar, Sangad, Wandi, Luni, Hatdi, Pavdiara and other villages, likely to be affected by the project. The venue was filled to capacity and there were more people waiting outside trying to participate in the public hearing.

Shri.J.D.Kalyani gave an outline of the environmental clearance process. The project details were presented by an official of Detox corporation. After his presentation, several locals held the mike and explained their view on the project, listing out various issues in the proposed power plant.

The issues are listed below:

  1. MASS Leaders raised the issue of the fisherfolk. Randh Bhadreshwar Bander, which is situated 5 km from Bhadreshwar village and home to over 5000 fisherfolk has not been mentioned anywhere in the OPGs’ report, which is supposed to provide details of habitations in a 10 km radius. In fact, as per the latittude- logitude of the power plant provided in the EIA report, the power plant is coming up exactly on Randh Bander. Since 2004, the fisherfolk have been submitting memoranda to the district administration to recognize the Bander land as a Fish landing centre. A Gujarat Government report of 2004 recommends that the Randh Bander be developed into a modern fish landing centre. In this situation, the OPGs are planning to install a power plant and a desalination plant which will discharge pollutants in the air, highly saline water and warm water into the sea, which will affect the marine ecology. Fishing is the sole occupation of the traditional fisherfolk and deprived of it they will perish. To pacify the fisherfolk, the company officials promised to provide water to the fisherfolk from the desalination plant. But, the fisherfolk were unanimous in opposing the OPG power project and exclaimed, “We will bear lathi and bullets, but we will not let the OPGs near our land ”.

  1. Villagers of Bhadreshwar dismissed the claim that the OPG power project is 5 km away from the nearest habitation. Within 5 km of the power project are the 5000 fisherfolk in Randh Bander, Bhadreshwar village with a population of over 6000 and over 5000 salt pan workers. Also, as per revenue records, the land on which the power plant is proposed, has not yet been procured by the OPGs. Local villagers asked, “When the land is not yours, how can you seek permission to build something on it?”. The company officials had no reply to these questions.

  1. There are nearly 5000 acres of salt pans in the area around the proposed power plant. The salt pans produce over 5000 tonnes of salt every month valued at over 15 crores. Already, the salt pans are facing difficulties due to pollutants that emerge from industries, 10 kms away, that burn around 400 tonnes of coal per month. Now with a power plant hardly 2 kms away, that burns around 90,000 tonnes of coal per month, the salt pans will be seriously affected and the salt produced will be unsuitable for consumption and the salt pans will be forced to close down. Bikha Bhai, speaking on behalf of the salt pan association stated, “We have been pursuing our traditional livelihoods for decades. Now this project is threatening to snatch our livelihoods from us. We are against this project and our fight will not stop with this public hearing. If the project is cleared at the state level, we will go to the central government. If it cleared there, we will go to the courts. If it is still cleared, 10,000 of us, including salt workers and fisherfolk in this area will lay down our lives before this project is implemented”.

  1. Traditional pastoralists also opposed the project on the grounds that the project will adversely affect them and their livelihoods.

  1. The Sarpanch of Bhadreshwar viillage, Shri.Umar bhai took a strong stand against the project, on behalf of all the communities in Bhadreshwar Village. He said that companies like OPG state that they will take precautions, but in our experience, nothing is done in reality to protect the local environment. He quoted the example of the Adanis who had given several promises but nothing was implemented. He stated that this is not a question of Hindu-Muslims, the entire village is with the fisherfolk and united in opposing the OPG project.
  2. As a sign of their Gandhian protest against the OPG power project, none, not even one of the 2000 people touched the food, not even water that was kept next to the venue, in a OPG food stall which looked deserted.
  3. Soni Ben from lok Adhikar Manch said that widows in the area had been long demanding for 5 acres of land each, from the collector. But the collector refuses to even meet them But, when industries ask for land, the collector eagerly agrees to their demands. She said that the project will be of no use to the village and hence she is against the project.
  4. Smt. Usha Ben Thakkar, ex-MP, Kutch, who had served on the Fisheries board condemned the plan to build the power plant in Bhadreshwar, stating that fisheries will be badly affected. Other leaders like Shri.Haresh Thakker, Dalit leader Shri.Valji Bhai opposed the plan to construct the power plant in Bhadreshwar and suggested that the p[ower plant be constructed in Little Rann of Kutch or other barren lands which were available in plenty in Kutch.
  5. Panchayats of eleven affected villages submitted letters opposing the OPG project.

Even though the hearing was held on a Friday, a holy day for muslims, hundreds of muslim fisherfolk turned up at the hearing to raise a voice to protect their livelihoods. At the end of the meeting, the people from Bhadreshwar and neighbouring villages shouted, “We will give our lives, but not our land” in a clear and unanimous message to all the authorities, the OPG company and the Government that the people are not in favour of the project and they will strongly oppose any move to implement the project.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voice of the Mundra Fisherfolk

An Open letter to Respected Shri.Gautam Adani - Chairman and CEO of Adani Group and Respected Shri.Arvind Gupta - Managing Director and CEO, OPG Group.

Dear Gautam Bhai / Arvind Bhai,

Fishing is our sole livelihood that has sustained our community for centuries and deprieved of it, we will perish.

Adani Mundra Port,SEZ and the OPG Power Plant will do just that.

Is that what you want?

Listen to our voice: Our Demands .

Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fishing in the Mundra Coast

The Kutch coastline accounts for the longest coastline of Gujarat and is home to 3500 fishing families. Mundra in the southern region of Kutch is the smallest block with a coastline of 72 kms stretching across 10 coastal settlements, home to nearly 10,000 fisherfolk.

The fishing community comprises of Muslims. Waghers as they are locally known is derived from “Wah! Gher” in Kutchi i.e. an expression of applauding the skilful laying of net to trap fish which is believed to be a skill mastered by the community people. The lives of the people are intricately linked with the sea and the beach and the people are self sufficient and independent.

The Banders are at a distance of 7-80 kms from main villages. Families from 3-4 villages might settle on a Bander. This practice has been in vogue for centuries. But the fisherfolks’ rights over this land are yet to be established. Says Ibrahim Kaka,
“We have been fishing on these coasts for 200 years. There is plenty of evidence to prove that we have been fishing on these coasts for so many years. But, our land is yet to be regularized.” People live in shelters made of gunny bags and other easily available material such as plastic sheets. This is the only protection against weather conditions that are quite harsh. Heavy winds, high temperature upto 45’ C and low temperature upto 5’C. The entire family shifts to the bandar for 8-9 months in a year. All the family members are involved in one way or the other in the fishing occupation. In-spite of the adverse conditions, they manage to survive, and earn their livelihood, which in itself is a testimony to the strength and endurance of the people.


Pagadia Fishing
The Pagadia fishworkers stay in thevillages and enter into the sea on foot to lay net and catch fish

Fishing by Motorised Boats
The boat owners use their wooden or fibre boats to enter deep into the sea using oil engines and lay the net
manually. The boat fish workers stay at settlements close to coasts for eight-nine months every year and come to live in the villages only during monsoon.

The entire family plays a major role in the fishing occupation. Women perform the only value additions done to fish here, viz., sorting and drying. Women are also involved in selling fish at local markets and in house to house retail sale of fish.

Annual Fish production by the traditional fishing in the Mundra coast is estimated to be nearly 12,000 MT valued at nearly 60.8 Crores (At current market prices). Each family should have substantial revenue, if they were able to sell directly to the market.

The Adanis and the OPGs say(in their Environment Impact Assessment Reports) that there is no significant commercial fishery in the Mundra area. This is misleading and perhaps the result of a lack of understanding of the fisheries of India. Small Scale “artisanal” fishing contributes around 40% of the marine fish production in India. Such small scale fishing may appear “non-commercial” or “subsistence” However, the reality is that such small scale fishing is a full time occupation and around 75% of the employment in fishing is from the small scale sector. Also this fishing is not for “subsistence” (i.e., self consumption), but for the market. The fish caught by the small fishermen of Kutch, including the pagadiyas, go to distant internal markets (Fresh fish to Bombay, dry fish to the North East) as well as for export (Shrimp and Lobsters to Europe and Japan, dried “Bombay Duck” to Sri Lanka.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ecological Significance of the Mundra Area

Gulf of Kutch is one of the few coastal zones in the world having rich bio-diversity. It comprises of mangroves, Coral reefs, Mudflats, Seaweeds, Commercial Fishes and several rare marine species. Click on image to see Full Size Image. The mangroves of the gulf are the second largest after the Sunderbans in the mainland of India. Gulf of Kutch is the only place left along the Indian coast after Gulf of Mannar where live corals occur. In 1982, parts of the Gulf area were declared as a Sanctuary and Marine National Park. Recently, scientists have discovered patches of live corals near Mundra coast. Thus, the Mundra coast is an ecologically sensitive zone as it supports vast areas of Mangroves, Corals and associated ecosystems.
Destruction of any of the above components of the fragile ecology will disrupt the entire ecosystem. The mangroves help the ecosystem by contributing to the oxygen Budget and in Soil Conservation. Mangroves and Corals are the nursing grounds for a variety of economically important fishes, exotic coral fishes and innumerable flora and fauna. The gulf also abounds in more than 210 species of algae. These algae in combination with corals and mangroves provide a conducive ecosystem for diverse flora and fauna.

The significance of mangroves in coastal ecosystems is undebatable. The Government of India and the Ministry of Environment and Forests recognise that mangrove forests are ecologically sensitive areas and need to be protected and conserved. Mangroves are critical to marine coastal soil conservation, breeding and nursery grounds for fish, crustaceans and other sea life, as well as vital habitat for birds and other wildlife. As per estimation, just 100 cu m of mangrove area shelters 54,600 prawns. Kutch district has been declared the most important mangrove area in the state of Gujarat.

A prominent feature of the Mundra Coast is the vast intertidal zone comprising a network of creeks, estuaries and mudflats. The intertidal zone is unique and very important because the fishermen can land their boats in these natural creeks and also keep them there safe from strong winds and currents. The fisherfolk have complete knowledge of the sea and have been living on the coasts for ages. They are familiar with the creeks of the area and the intertidal zone is important for their occupation, economic prosperity and survival of their families. The creeks also form a natural drainage system which if disturbed might lead to flooding during monsoons.

Scientists have identified vacant sites along the Kutch coast which could be used for industrial development. Along the northern coast, two lengthy stretches are available without any ecologically sensitive zones that could be used for future development of industries. Why use the ecologically sensitive Mundra Coast for Industrial Development when alternative sites are available nearby.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Proposed Industries on the Mundra Coast

Overview of Adanis' Waterfront Development Project:

The Mundra Port as of date has multipurpose terminals, container terminals, Single Point Mooring and back-up infrastructure such as open storage area, covered godowns, chemical and POL(Petroleum/Oil/Lubricant) storage tank farm, and several CFS(Container Freight Stations) operated by private parties on land leased from MPSEZL. Support infrastructure, as existing, comprises connectivity to national network of railways and roads, power supply, water supply and other utilities and services.

The proposed WFDP comprises four port clusters - namely West Port, South Port, North Port and East Port, a Liquified Natural Gas terminal, two shipyards, three desalination plants, associated intake and outfall structures, port interconnecting road/link network and other necessary infrastructure.

The proposed structures are shown on the map below(click image to see Fullsize):


Usage and Capacity

The estimated traffic in these ports is listed below:
No of ships per year by 2013
Nature of cargo
Coal, Steel Scrap, Chemicals, Dry Bulk
Dry Bulk and Oil
Steel Scrap, Dry Bulk
The capacity of the Desalination plant near West port is 300 million litres per day. Nearly 1.5 times the capacity is discharged into the sea as saline water. Desalination plants of 100 mld, 140 mld capacities are proposed in future.
Overview of OPGs' Coal Based Power Plant Project:
1. A 300 MW coal based Thermal power plant is being proposed.The generated power is supplied to industries and not to the power grid.
2. The total land that has been procured for the power plant is 316 acres.
3. The location of the power plant is shown in Google Earth Image,
4. Indonesian Coal will be brought in through Mundra / Kandla ports located 25/50 kms away. Daily 150-200 trucks are needed to carry coal from the port to the power plant.
5. Desalination plant will be used for supply of potable water/ Dematerialized water for the boiler feed of the power plant.
6. Type of cooling system is NOT a once through cooling system. It is a sea water cooling tower designed to reduce intake of sea water. However, it is not clear whether the cooling system is a closed cycle cooling system or an open system with helping tower as the water balance diagram shows a Cooling Tower blow down of 1500 m3/hr.
7. Nearly 540 lakh litres of water will be drawn from the sea in a day and nearly 360 lakh litres of water will be discharged into the sea in a day.
8. Nearly 9,000 tonnes of Flyash will be generated every month.
9.Acidic gases such as Sulphur Oxide and Nitrous Oxide will be released by the power plant.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Likely Impact of Industries on Traditional Fishing in Mundra Coast

Likely Impact of Adanis' Port and SEZ on 10 Traditional Fishing Settlements. Directly Affected population - Nearly 10000 people.

1. Boat Fishing would be completely stopped as Fisherfolk are likely to be physically displaced from their settlement as the intertidal area is marked for development of Port Backup / SEZ in the project plan.

2. Fisherfolks' access road to the Bander is likely to be blocked due to restrictions imposed for the port/SEZ.

3. Fishing would be affected due to Desalination plants proposed near the coast.

4. Fishing in the region would be affected due to dumping of hazardous wastes from the two Shipping yards proposed.

5. Pagadiya Fishing will be completely stopped as access roads to Fishing grounds will be blocked to restrictions imposed by SEZ and intertidal zone will be filled up.

Full Details of Impact on Fishing

Other Impacts of Project

Click on image to see full size image

What do the Adanis say?
There is no Significant Commercial Fishing in the Area, hence no question of displacement, relief or rehabilitation.

Likely Impact of OPG Power Plant on Traditional Fishing in Randh Bandar. Directly Affected population - Nearly 2000 people.

1. Boat Fishing would be completely stopped in Randh Bandar as Fisherfolk are likely to be physically displaced from their settlement

2. Fisherfolks' access road to the Bander is likely to be blocked by the Power Plant

3. Fishing would be affected due to construction of Desalination plants proposed near the coast.

4. Fishing in the region would be affected due to discharge of sea-water used for cooling into the sea.

5. Pagadiya Fishing will be completely stopped as access roads to Fishing grounds will be blocked to restrictions imposed by Power Plant.

6. Fly ash and toxic gases generated by the power plant will make the area uninhabitable.

There are several Saltpans in the area. THe toxic affluents of the power plant are likely to affect the saltpans.

Location of OPG Power Plant vis-a- vis Fishing Settlement(Randh Bandar)

Click on the image to see the full size image

What do the OPGs say?
There is no Fishing in the Area, hence no question of displacement, relief or rehabilitation.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Demands

  1. The bandars represent strategic locations from which fishing can take place. They represent the area where the fishing families stay put for 9 months every year. They also represent the areas where fish is dried. Nearly 90% of the fish caught in Kutch is dried and without this space, fishing will not be sustained. The Bander land should be allotted to us and the bander should be declared as a fishing zone.
  2. Protection of the 5-7 km wide inter-tidal zone that is vital for fishing. Half the fishermen who are pagadiyas are entirely dependent on this zone. The boat fishermen also become pagadiyas during the June-Aug period and also depend on the inter-tidal zone for three months in a year. 5-7 km wide and 4 km long stretch of Intertidal zone in front of each Bander should be meant for fishing only and not used for any industrial development.
  3. The access road from main road to the Bander should not be blocked. Permanent access to the bandars should be ensured. Trucks to take fish from the bandars should be able to freely come and go.
  4. Creeks in the Mundra Coast should not be filled or blocked as they are used by us to navigate to fishing grounds. The creeks should be kept open for fishing boats to come and go.
  5. The sea routes to the fishing grounds should not be obstructed by ships anchored on the routes to the port. Port operations and shipping should be regulated in a manner that will not affect operations of boat fishermen at sea.
  6. Hazardous wastes and oil should not be dumped near the coast. Strict control over marine pollution due to port activities and the effluence from the SEZ industries—establishing a system that will provide fishing communities an opportunity to participate in the monitoring.
  7. Highly Saline discharge from desalination plants can be treated and used for salt extraction, but should not be disposed in the sea near the shore as it will affect fishing. No Desalination plant or shipyard should be allowed near the fishing enclaves.
  8. Destruction of Mangroves near the Mundra Coast should be stopped as mangroves are crucial for our livelihood. The mangroves destroyed/degraded in the last decade must be replanted to restore the marine resources like shrimp.

Kutch Fishworkers' Issues in the press

Google, Facebook power Kutch Fishing community protest The Indian Express, May 18, 2010

Port expansion poses threat to mangroves CNN IBN, May 05, 2010

Sea level rises, Gujarat coast in trouble CNN IBN, April 02, 2010

Environment clearance: A sham again India Together, March 23, 2010

Development and Displacement: Resentment in the Kutch Economic and Political Weekly, February 20, 2010

Villagers raise voice against land allotment for industrial purpose Indian Express, February 08, 2010

Tension grips Mundra Village over proposed power plant Indian Express, 28th August, 2009

Centre plans law to protect fishermen Times of India, August 13, 2009

May check if CRZ norms violated at Mundra: Jairam Indian Express, August 13, 2009

Govt to probe alleged CRZ violation by Mundra Port The Hindu, August 12, 2009

SC issues notice to Adani, others on Mundra SEZ Indian Express, August 11, 2009

SC issues notice to Adani, others on Mundra SEZ Live Mint, August 10, 2009

SC notice to Adani, others on Mundra SEZ Hindu Business Line,August 10, 2009

Gujarat asked to secure Fisherfolk's livelihood Mint, July 29, 2009

National body orders state govt to ensure unhindered fishing in Mundra Indian Express, July 28, 2009

Save India's Beaches NDTV 24x7, Series of programmes in 2009

See the complete story "Gujarat's Mangrove under threat" on NDTV 24 X 7, which reports on extensive environmental damage allegedly caused by the Adanis' Mundra Port and SEZ. NDTV 24x7, June 08, 2009

EIA clearance hearing for proposed Thermal plant witnesses strong protest Indian Express, May 30th, 2009

OPG Power Plant Opposed DNA, May 30th, 2009

Fishermen protest against Bhadreshwar power project Times of India, June 2nd, 2009

Fishermen Body threatens to boycott elections Indian Express,April 17th,2009

Port a threat to Mangrove forests in Mundra (Gujarat) Mangrove Action Project, Dec 27th, 2008

Mundra Waterfront Project at the cost of 10,000 families?
Indian Express, Dec 07th, 2008

How Mundra became India's Rotterdam InfoChange News & Features, December 2008

Impacts of MPSEZL (Mundra Port and SEZ Limited) on environment and people of Gulf of Kutch Mangrove Action Project, Nov 14th, 2008

Satyagraha likely over land allotment to Mundra SEZ Thaindian News, July 10th, 2008

SC Stays construction on Adani Group's Mundra SEZ The Financial Express, July 01, 2008

Villagers veto sale of grazing land to Mundra SEZ India Environmental Portal, May 30th, 2008

Nature lovers upset as axe falls on Mangroves for SEZ
Indian Express, March 22, 2008

Mundra SEZ spells displacement for fisherfolk Down to Earth, March, 2007