The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has issued a showcause to the Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone (MPSEZ) located in Mundra taluka of Kutch district for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 1991 and asked state authorities to raze constructions that flout CRZ norms within four weeks.
The MoEF has also simultaneously issued showcause to OPG Power Gujarat Private Limited located in Mundra taluka, which is planning a 300-MW thermal power plant about 20 kms from the MPSEZ, for violation of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.
The notices follow a site visit by additional director of the MoEF A Senthilvel on December 6 and 7 and the report he submitted.
The MoEF had earlier received several representations alleging violations of various environmental laws from Bharat Patel, general secretary of the Machikar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, a local fishermen’s union.
The notice to the MPSEZ, operated by the Adani Group and valued at MoEF sends a showcause to Mundra Port and SEZ
Rs 29,610 crore in terms of market capitalisaion, lists several CRZ violations that include “large-scale” destruction of mangroves in different areas, blocking of creeks and tidal flow to mangrove areas, and building an airport, a township and a hospital without proper clearances.
The airport had obtained clearance from the Civil Aviation ministry, but had not obtained one from the MoEF, which is mandatory as per the CRZ notification.
The union ministry has asked the company to reply in 15 days failing which “appropriate orders as deemed fit will be passed under the circumstances of the case without any further notice”.
In addition, the union ministry has asked why several of the clearances already granted to the company by the Gujarat State Environment Impact Assessment should not be cancelled and why its own clearances should not be cancelled due to violation of conditions and why illegal constructions should not be dismantled to allow tidal flow.
The ministry also asked why a 1000-hectare mangrove afforestation drive in and around the project site should not be paid for by the MPSEZ.
The ministry has also directed the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority to prepare a revised CRZ area for the site, superimpose it on a map of the existing area and thereafter remove or dismantle any construction that violates the CRZ norms within four weeks.
A spokesperson for the Adani Group said, “The work carried out at Mundra is in compliance with clearances. We are studying the issues raised by MoEF and will respond to them in due course of time. Operations at Mundra are normal.”
The MPSEZ has chalked out massive expansion plans, having signed an MoU with the Gujarat government during the Vibrant Gujarat summit 2009 to expand and develop multiple facilities at Mundra at an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 crore.
The proposed port facilities were expected to become operational in a phased manner from 2011 onwards.
The MPSEZ is the second port to be questioned by the MoEF. Earlier, the proposed Positra port plan had to be scrapped in April this year due to dangers it posed to the marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Kutch.