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

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

NO Thanks: Fisherfolk reject CSR package and say NO to Adani's KPGL power project in Bhadreshwar

Fishermen and other members of the local community unanimously opposed the Adani group's KPGL power plant proposed in Bhadreshwar village, during the public hearing held on 6th October in Luni village. The fishermen and salt pan workers expressed their concerned about the harmful impact on marine ecology because KPGL is planning to use OPEN CYCLE (ONCE THROUGH COOLING SYSTEM), which is banned in several Western countries because of the excessive damage it causes to marine ecology.

It is relevant to note that the CRZ committee recently rejected a proposal for intake channel in the same area due to the likely impact on marine life, sand dunes and mangroves in Bhadreshwar coast. The KPGL power plant proposes to draw over 10-100 times more sea water than other power plants in the area and discharge nearly 5000 lakh litres / hour into the sea. This is in-spite of the MoEF expert committee’s recommendation to KPGL to try and reduce discharge to zero to minimise damage to marine ecology.

The Marine Environement Impact Assessment report which is very important to understand the likely impact of the proposed KPGL project on fishing, has not been submitted by KPGL. With such key information missing in the documents submitted for the public hearing, people cannot not have a complete idea of the project or the likely impact on our heath and livelihoods. It is meaningless to conduct a public hearing without providing basic and essential information to the public.

Experiences of local communities living in the vicinity of coal based power plants in other parts of Kutch coast show that pollution due to coal dust and fly ash are severe in summer months because of the dry climate and the direction of wind which is towards land. The air pollution could severely affect the fish drying process and salt production. Also, it would affect places of religious importance such as the world famous Jain Vasai teerth which is a pilgrimage centre of Jains located in Bhadreshwar.

Three-fourths of the entire stretch of the Mundra coast, especially the Central and West parts of the Mundra coast, have already been utilised for the purpose of construction of Mundra port and SEZ, CGPL, Adani power plants and desalination plants. Bhadreshwar Randh Bander is important not only for the fisherfolk from Bhadreshwar but also for the 1000+ families dependent on Traditional Fishing on the Mundra Coast.

It is to be noted that the 2600 MW OPG power project is also proposed in Bhadreshwar village right next to the KPGL project location. The cumulative impact of proposed projects on such a small stretch of ecologically fragile coast needs to be studied carefully before Environment clearance can be considered for the projects. Principles of Integrated coastal management need to be adhered to while deciding on the site for upcoming projects.

The above issues show that EIA study has not been done in a rigorous, systematic and genuine manner.

In order to appease the community, the Adani Foundation had offered a CSR package to the fishing community in the form of a 4 Crore package which includes a grant of Rs.10,000 per family, construction of toilets etc. This is hardly adequate to compensate the loss caused by the project to the fishing community. The annual fish catch in Bhadreshwar coast and nearby areas is estimated to be over Rs.20 Crores.

Rejecting these CSR measures as mere lollipops, which trivialized the issues of the fisherfolk, the fishing community unanimously opposed the KPGL project from coming up in Bhadreshwar.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Public hearing of Mundra SEZ witnesses unprecedented protests

The environmental public hearing of the 7400 Cr Mundra SEZ, promoted by the Adani Mundra Port and SEZ limited witnessed unprecedented protests and lot of commotion. The local communities from over 14 villages unanimously opposed the project at the public hearing and raised issues vociferously and demanded explanations from the company. The situation was tense throughout the public hearing, which went on for over 5 hours.

The public hearing was held in a huge tent erected in the premises of Ganesh Temple in Luni village. The Kutch Additional collector, Shri.Gunvant Vaghela, chaired the hearing. Shri.Pancholi from the Gujarat Pollution Control Board started the procedure by welcoming everyone and explaining the purpose of the public hearing. After that, the company representatives made a presentation with details of the Category A project. The current proposal is related to phase 1 of the Mundra SEZ which covers an area of 8400 Ha. The activities proposed would include expansion of facilities such as road, electricity, railway line, airport, health and education infrastructure etc. Over the next 15 years the company plans to expand the SEZ over an area of 18,000 Ha. Sushma Oza of the Adani Foundation gave an overview of the activities of the Adani Foundation and the CSR activities proposed. The company gave assurances that ground water would not be utilized for the project and that fisherfolk will not be displaced as a result of the project.

Bikhabhai Nathu Ahir, on behalf of the agarias(traditional salt-pan workers) and the salt industry raised the issue that the project would severely affect the salt production in the area. He claimed that the GPCB is misguiding the people regarding the impact of industries on the salt industry and raised other issues related to the Mundra SEZ. The people present at the hearing strongly supported his views.

Amad Iliyas Manjaliya of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, speaking on behalf of the traditional fishing community in the area, stated that the Mundra SEZ sounds the death knell for the fishermen in the area, who are already facing several problems due to the Mundra Port and SEZ. Several other leaders, including Vishram Gadhvi (farmers’ representative), Mahendra Gadhvi (Bhujpur Village Sarpanch), Jiveesinh Jadeja (Samagoga village Sarpanch), Kumbhar Umar Mamad (Bhadreshwar village Sarpanch), Valjibhai Taparia (Zarpara village Sarpanch), Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Zilla Panchayat President), Kara Hussein Salemamad (Kutch Zilla Mchimar ssociation) and other leaders opposed the project and raised several serious issues and demanded for the cancellation of the public hearing.

The local community representatives expressed their view that the Additional Collector, Shri. Vaghela and GPCB’s Shri.Pancholi were taking sides with the company and speaking in the company’s favour. Hearing this, Shri.Vaghela, the Additional collector lost his temper and stepped down from the stage and had a heated argument with the community leaders and even used abusive words. Seeing the worsening situation, police officials rushed to the scene and tried to keep the situation under control. The commotion lasted for over an hour. Seeing the manner in which the officials behaved, several people walked out of the public hearing shouting that the meaningless drama of public hearing be put to an end.

Women from the affected villages also rushed to the stage and shouted slogans against the project and argued with the officials. Lady police officers had to intervene and tried to keep the situation under control. At this point, there was so much commotion that hardly anything was audible to the people present in the public hearing.

After a large number of people walked out, panchayat members and leaders requested people to be seated and allow the public hearing to continue. Malay Mahadevia, Director of Mundra SEZ, stated that fishermen will be provided access through certain parts of the SEZ and also CSR activities will be undertaken in consultation with the local community.

The people from Zarpara village had tied tender coconuts to the roof of the public hearing venue to show how small these had become due to the pollution caused by the Adani group’s activities in the area. They also displayed photographs of indiscriminate mangrove destruction by the Adani group in the area. The Samagoga Sarpanch explained with the help of satellite images, the extent of mangrove destruction and blocking of creeks in the area.

On behalf of the fishing community, Amad Iliyas Manjaliya of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan(MASS) and Kara Hussein Mamad of Kutch Zilla Machimar Association submitted a comprehensive memorandum running into over 1100 pages, which scientifically listed the issues related to the Mundra SEZ .

Upon conclusion of the public hearing, it was announced that the public hearing of the proposed Kutch Power Generation Limited power plant in Bhadreshwar, will be held on 6th October in Luni.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Court decides in favour of fisherfolk; orders re-scheduling of the Adani KPGL public hearing

The Gujarat High Court has decided in favour of the Bhadreshwar fisherfolk in the case filed by fisherfolk to challenge the back to back public hearings of Adanis' Mundra SEZ and KPGL power plant, both of which were scheduled on the same day, i.e tomorrow Oct 5th(Read More). The Honorable High court in its order today(4th October, 2010), has ordered the re-scheduling of the public hearing of Adani's proposed KPGL power project in Bhadreshwar.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Petition moved against public hearing for power plant

Express News Service
Posted: Sat Oct 02 2010, 06:30 hrs Ahmedabad:

Four fishermen from Kutch have moved a petition in the HC praying that the GPCB should postpone the public hearing on October 5 for a power plant. The petitioner had previously written to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh asking the hearings — for the Mundra SEZ and Kutch Power Generation— be postponed, but the GPCB has so far not taken a decision.