Please sign the online petitions below to express your solidarity and support for the actions proposed by the Environment Ministry in the show cause notices
Petition for action against Mundra Port and SEZ
Petition for action against OPG Power Project

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Environment Ministry’s positive action to streamline norms for Expansion of Thermal Power Plants

The issue: (Excerpt from the article OPG POWER PLANT Environment clearance: A sham again by Kanchi Kohli, a member of the Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group)

The application for environment clearance for this 300 MW power plant is currently pending with the Gujarat State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA) and its appraisal committee. As per the EIA notification 2006, thermal power projects under 500 MW are termed as 'Category B' and need to take permission at the state level. If over 500 MW, whether a new operation or expansion, then approvals will be considered by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi. These projects are branded as 'Category A'. In its letter dated 11th March, 2010 the Gujarat State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has informed the OPG Group that the environmental clearance for the 300 MW power project will be considered only after the company responds in detail to the issues raised by the local communities.

Expansion plans, even before first phase is approved

But even as this application is pending, the OPG group is thinking bigger. On 3 December 2009, the group submitted an application to the MoEF for establishing the Terms of Reference (ToR) to prepare an EIA report for the expansion of the plant from 300 to 2600 MW. In his letter to the MoEF, OPG group's Managing Director, Arvind Gupta makes no mention of the fact that even the 300 MW plant has not yet been cleared.

Under normal circumstances, it is very likely that this would have gone unnoticed. However, MASS activitists filed a Right to Information application and sought out the details. As soon as this came to their notice, a letter (dated 26 February 2010) was sent to the Envirioent Minister Jairam Ramesh, seeking his intervention. It highlights that the OPG group has deliberately tried to mislead the concerned authorities, and therefore their proposal is liable to rejection, as well cancellation of the smaller plant too.

Read the complete article, at

In a positive step in response to this issue, in its circular dated March 22nd, 2010, the Environment Ministry, led by the Environment Minister, Shri.Jairam Ramesh, has taken cognisance of the issue and taken steps to rectify the clearance process. The Ministry has decided that the expansion plan for projects will be considered only after the implementation of the earlier phase has commenced. Also, in case of projects (like the OPG project which applied for expansion to 2600 MW while the clearance for 300 MW project is still pending), for which environmental clearance for the earlier phase has not yet been accorded, the company will have to submit a comprehensive proposal for the entire project by clubbing together all the phases so that environmental issues can be addressed holistically.

The fishworkers and other traditional communities on the Kutch coast and also the Environment Activists welcome this positive step taken by the Environment Ministry and applaud the Environment ministry for its efforts to strengthen and streamline the environment clearance process and view this as one more step towards pro-poor, environment friendly and sustainable development in our country.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Environment Ministry asks, “Is there Fishing in Bhadreshwar Coast?” NA, says Adani

The Adani group is planning a 3300 MW power plant in Bhadreshwar in the name of KPGL (Kutch Power Generation Limited). As per the project details (Form-1) submitted by the company to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, a copy of which we obtained through RTI, the company has mentioned that Bhadreshwar coast does not have important Fishing activity. In response to the question, “Areas containing important, High quality or scarce resources (ground water resources, surface resources, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, minerals)", the company has stated "NA". This is absolutely false and misleading.

*Click on the image for bigger picture

Randh Bander in Bhadreshwar coast is Kutch’s second largest traditional fishing settlement. Nearly 6000 fisherfolk from Bhadreshwar, Luni, Tuna and Sangad villages reside in this settlement in which traditional fishing is being practiced since nearly 200 years. Government surveys have shown, not only the existence of the bander, but also the high potential for fishing in Randh Bander and its importance. The Fisheries department is currently developing Randh Bander into a modern Fish landing centre. Also, a fisheries producers group ( Read More ), which helps fisherfolk in getting better income from fishing, has already started functioning in Bhadreshwar.

Randh Bander which is on Bhadreshwar coast clearly falls within the project impact area since the power project is proposed in Bhadreshwar village. But, surprisingly, there is no mention of the Randh Bander anywhere in the project information document which the company has submitted to the expert committee of the Environment Ministry.

There are several examples in Kutch coast that show that fishing activities have been completely disrupted in coastal villages where thermal power plants are situated. Based on the drastic decline in fish catch experienced by fisherfolk along the Lakhpat/Abdasa coast in Kutch, it is clear that the Adani power plant and desalination plant could pose grave risks to fishing/Salt Panning activity in the Bhadreshwar coast. In fact the state expert committee has deferred the 300 MW OPG power project in Bhadreshwar due to serious concerns about coastal livelihoods, and the world famous Jain pilgrimage centre in Bhadreshwar. ( Read More )

Inspite of the risks posed by the power plant to Kutch’s second largest fishing centre, impact on fishing has not even been considered in the impact assessment study being conducted by National Institute of Oceanography for the project. The local communities of Bhadreshwar, especially the Fishing community are strongly opposed to the meaningless study by NIO.

It’s not as if NIO officials are unaware of fishing activities on Bhadreshwar coast. As mentioned in a reply to RTI application, a NIO team visited Randh Bander on 23rd January, 2010 for physical verification of Sandbar at Bhadreshwar(Randh Bander). Again on March 6th, 2010, a NIO team lead by Dr.Gajbhiye personally visited Randh Bander upon the insistence of the representatives of fisherfolk and the NIO scientists themselves are witness to the false/misleading statements made by their clients, the Adanis.

Fisherfolk have raised their objection to the NIO study, which is based on false and misleading information provided by Adanis to the Environment Ministry’s expert committee and demand that the project be rejected immediately.

Further, fisherfolk demand that the Environment Ministry should implement United Nations Environment Guidelines on Thermal power plants, in Gulf of Kutch. If UN guidelines are followed, then Environment Clearance for the Adani power plant and other Thermal Power projects in Gulf of Kutch should be considered only after exhaustive carrying capacity studies, which would determine how many power plants can be safely established without adversely affecting the marine ecology and traditional coastal livelihoods in Gulf of Kutch.

Nearly 75% of the 60 km Mundra coast is already allocated for construction of ports, SEZ, power plants etc by Adani and other industries. Traditional fisherfolk all over the Mundra coast are facing displacement from their settlements. Bhadreshwar Randh Bander is the last major fishing settlement available for the 1000+ traditional fisherfolk families in the Mundra coast.

The fishing community is strongly opposed to the Adani power plant in Bhadreshwar as Bhadreshwar coast is critical for their livelihoods, whereas there are plenty of alternative sites in Kutch coast to implement the power plant. In their letter dated 6th March, 2010, the Fishworkers told the scientists and the company politely but firmly that they not responsible for any losses that the company might suffer in future because of the investments it is making towards the power plant in a location chosen without consulting the local communities.

If you would like to support the Bhadreshwar fishworkers and endorse their demands, please sign the online petition at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Expert committee tells OPG "Provide Answers to people's issues first, then come to us"

In its letter dated 11th March, 2010 the Gujarat State Level Expert Appraisal Committee has informed OPG that the proposed 300 MW power project at Bhadreshwar will be considered for Environmental Clearance only after the company responds in detail to the issues raised by the local communities and also gets CRZ clearance from the competent authority.

The chronology of events related to the OPG power project is shown below:
29th May,2009 Public hearing for the 300 MW OPG power project witnessed unprecedented opposition from local communities Read More

23rd Aug,2009 Violent incidents in Bhadreshwar as OPG attempts to start construction without environmental clearance. 30 Fisherfolk leaders arrested and jailed for over 3 months. No action taken against the company. Read More

27th Aug,2009 Fisherfolk move Gujarat High Court against OPG project, raising issues of illegal construction and wrong information provided by company during public hearing.Read More

03rd Dec,2009 OPG approaches MoEF for expansion of the 300 MW power plant to 2600 MW.

03rd Feb,2010 Gujarat High Court orders site visit by GPCB officials and rules that company can’t start construction until project gets Environmental Clearance.

24th Feb,2010 Team of GPCB and Expert Committee visits Bhadreshwar and interacts with local communities and company officials. GPCB asks Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, a local fishworkers tradeunion to prepare a comprehensive representation of all issues raised by the local communities in opposition to the OPG project.

4th March,2010 MASS hands over the representation, on behalf of 23,000 Fishworkers, Salt Panners, Farmers, Livestock rearers, Jain pilgrims and other villagers, to Expert Committee in presence of OPG officials.

11th Mar,2010 Expert Committee writes to OPG seeking their response to the issues raised by the local communities and states that project will be considered for Environmental Clearance only after satisfactory response to the issues raised and also the company has to obtain prior CRZ clearance from the central authorities.

12th Mar,2010 OPG starts construction again in project site.

13th Mar,2010 Fisherfolk complain about OPG’s illegal construction activity to district authorities.

17th Mar,2010 Legal notices served to district officials to conduct site inspection of the illegal construction activity.

As on date No action taken by District administration and OPG continues illegal construction activity without Environmental Clearance.

As mentioned in the representation made by MASS to GPCB, the project is likely to adversely impact fishworkers, salt panners, farmers, livestock rearers, Jain pilgrims visiting the Bhadreshwar panch teerth and other villagers of Bhadreshwar and the surrounding villages. On July 10rd, 2009, the Bhadreshwar Gram Sabha passed a resolution against the OPG power project. Villagers are worried because OPG is committing so many violations at the entry stages itself, and if allowed to establish, cannot be relied upon to sincerely implement pollution control measures that are being discussed on paper, thereby putting people's health and livelihoods at risk.

The apathy of the District Administration in ignoring the local community's complaints and allowing OPG to continue with illegal construction means that the villagers only ray of hope lies with the Expert Committee and the courts. The Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, Kutch Zilla Machimar Association, The Bhadreshwar Salt Pan Association, Paryavaran Mitra and Kalyanji Vardhaman Trust (Trustees of the Jain pilgrimage shrine) welcome the positive steps taken by the Expert Committee and GPCB to understand the issues of the local communities. However, it remains to be seen whether the expert committee will take a step further in the interests of the local communities and deliver justice by rejecting the Environmental Clearance for the OPG power project.

If you would like to support the local communities in their pursuit of pro-poor, clean and sustainable development, please sign the following petition to insist upon the environmental regulatory authorities to reject environmental clearance for the project and the district administration to wake up and take some action against the company.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

OPG starts construction without Environment Clearance, yet again, inspite of court order

The Gujarat state expert committee is considering whether or not to grant environment clearance for the 300 MW project, which poses grave risks to the health and livelihoods of local communities and also the tranquility of the 2500 year ancient Jain Vasai Teerth, which is located just 1.5 km from the project site. While the company is claiming that there will be absolutely no impact because of the project, the local communities, which have been mislead and given false information several times, view the company’s claims as hollow promises which are not backed by genuine, systematic and scientific studies, based on consultations with local community.

Local community leaders conveyed their strong objection to the project during the State Expert Committee’s visit to the project site on February 23rd, 2010. An RTI reply sent by Ministry of Environment and Forests revealed that the company has already applied for expansion of the 300 MW project to a 2600 MW project (which the state expert committee was not aware of), raising questions about violation of environment norms which stipulate Central Government permission for Power projects of capacity over 500 MW.

Now, the proposed 300 MW power plant in Bhadreshwar village of Mundra taluk, is in serious trouble once again, as the company has started construction without the mandatory environment clearance. This is not the first time that the company has done this. It may be recalled that the company’s attempts to start illegal construction in August 2009, had led to violent clashes in the village (See

After the August incident, the local fishermen had also approached the high court to seek intervention in this matter and in its order on 3rd February,2010 the Gujarat High Court ruled “The matter(Environment Clearance for the OPG project) is pending before the Environmental Impact Assessment Authority of the State(of Gujarat) and till Environmental Clearance Certificate is given the 11th respondent(OPG) cannot establish the unit.

However, as the following photographs (dated 12th March,2010) taken at the proposed OPG project site in Bhadreshwar reveal, the company, in gross violation of environment law and is also in contempt of court, has again started construction.

The local communities have approached the concerned authorities for immediate action in this matter.

If you would like to support the local communities in their pursuit of clean and sustainable development, please sign the following petition to insist upon the environmental regulatory authorities to reject environmental clearance and the district administration to take strong action against the company.