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, February 15, 2012

National Green Tribunal directs that no construction till all approvals are obtained by OPG

The National Green Tribunal on 08-2-20012 in a Judgment [Order made available on 14-2-2012 at] directed that no construction activity should take place with respect to the 300 MW (2x150 MW) Thermal Power Plant at Village Bhadreshwar, Taluka Mundra by OPG Power Gujarat till all approvals are obtained by the Project Proponent. Construction had commenced at the site without all the required approvals including the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and CRZ clearance. The ongoing constructions were challenged before the National Green Tribunal by Fisherfolks, Saltpan Worker and local villagers. The work on the project continues despite the fact all required approvals were not in place

The NGT in its judgement cited the environmental clearance letter which clearly stipulates that the project proponent shall not start any construction/ project enabling activities unless and until environmental clearance as well as all requisite prior permission/ clearances are obtained. [Para 13 of the Judgment].

The NGT held ‘that a cumulative reading of all the specific and general conditions…leads to the conclusion that the project cannot commence its activities until prior permission/ clearances are obtained from various authorities under different Acts/ law’.

The NGT further held that ‘it is well settled that in the absence of permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act and CRZ clearance , the EC granted in favour of Respondent No 3 becomes redundant in as much as the said EC is subject to permission and clearance granted under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the CRZ clearance”

It is pertinent to point out that the Forest Clearance application was rejected by the Government of Gujarat and the MOEF has on 6th February, 2012 issued a Show Cause to OPG Groups to show cause as to why the CRZ Clearance should not be kept in abeyance.

As a result of the Present Judgment of the NGT, OPG Power Gujarat cannot proceed with its project unless they secure all approvals and responds to the Show Cause issued by the MoEF with respect to the CRZ Clearance. In case OPG proposes any change, they have to apply to the concerned authorities for approval.

Indian Express

Business Standard

Hindustan Times

Divya bhaskar Gujarti News

Kutch Mitra

CAO Dispute Resolution Process on Tata Mundra Coal Project a Failure

Assessment Report does not understand the complex issues and is unfairly protective of the company
Disappointing. This is how we, members of the Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights) see the assessment report of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) on our case against Tata Mundra coal power project. One, CAO fails to understand the deep-seated issues we raised in our complaint. Two, its Ombudsman goes out of the way to justify the company for its omissions and violations.
An assessment begun in August 2011, the report projects, us, the complainants as adamant and unreasonable; that we are not prepared to enter into a collaborative process of dispute resolution. For us, this finding indicates that CAO has fallen into the sweet talk and PR of the company, whose track record in many other projects in the country is notoriously dismal.
The report cites CAO’s view that a collaborative process may have been helpful in this case to address many of the concerns. Had we engaged in an open dialogue, CAO reports, the company could have enhanced benefits such as provision of health and schooling services for fishing communities. This is a very myopic view and a simplistic solution to the complex problems the company has brought to us. The report is also profoundly silent about the violations we have raised in the complaint.
We had pointed out in our complaint the absence of cumulative impact assessment; IFC and its client’s failure to recognize fishing communities as affected population; and the absence of environmental clearance for in-take channel, conveyer belt, port and railway line (all being shared with the adjacent Adani project), and for the open cooling system. CAO purposefully ignored to mention these issues in its report. We do not think CAO fully understands the issues we brought to their attention.
In the report, CAO has not failed to mention that some fishworkers are satisfied with what the company has compensated them, without remembering that the complaint was from the aggrieved communities and not the other. We believe CAO should have covered in its assessment the other adversely impacted people, like the farmers, shepherds/ cattle herders, whose lands have been usurped for the project and the other externality costs.

CAO’s utter failure to accurately assess the broad concerns in our complaint and to ensure a conducive mediation process is disappointing. We hope that the compliance process will be more prudent, objective and forthright in looking at the issues that we have raised, particularly in the context of the poor assessment report, the long-term harms this project has created, and the multiple policy violations.
Hard decisions must be taken to save threatened communities and the marine and land resources from the long-term havocs of the coal power plant. There must be a full audit, not just a desk-based review from distant experts, and ToR for the audit must be disclosed.
Additional information
In June 2011 Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights) sent a complaint to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, the recourse mechanism at the International Finance Corporation, of the World Bank Group. The complaint now moves to the compliance arm of the CAO, after the Ombudsman has submitted the assessment report.
The complaint emerged to hold IFC accountable for co-financing the 4,000 MW coal-based Tata Ultra Mega Power Plant. Lodged by fishing and farming villagers, the complaint claims that due to flawed design and execution, including breaches of mandatory client obligations, the mammoth coal-fired power plant is contributing to the destruction livelihood of thousands of families and will cause irreparable damage to their fragile marine resources and agriculture.
With a total project cost of US$ 4.14 billion, the IFC is investing a $450 million loan and $50 million in equity. Other financial institutions funding the project are the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, the State Bank of Indore and other local banks.
As the plant is located in the special economic zone (SEZ) that cuts across fishing grounds, habitat of diverse marine lives and wide expanse of farm land, complainants state that the project’s social impact assessment is significantly flawed. Fishing communities were excluded from the list of those directly impacted; the major damage and potential loss of their livelihood was deliberately overlooked.
On the economic side, the recent Indonesian government’s revision of its coal export pricing structure effectively doubled prices. This revision has immediate and severe impacts on the Tata Mundra plant. Tata Power Managing Director has said that it could become a “non-performing asset” and began actively lobbying the Indian government for a tariff revision as well as a diplomatic push to get the Indonesian government to revise its pricing structure. Whatever happens on the tariff front, if all costs are taken into account, including the huge social and environmental costs, we believe that the project can never be economically viable.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Urgent Press Release : MOEF showcause notice to OPG on CRZ clearance

CRZ application did not disclose the presence of forest land in project area for laying the pipeline for a thermal power plant

Notice seeks explanation from M/s OPG within 15 days on why their
CRZ clearance should not kept in abeyance

In a significant move, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has issued a show cause notice on 6th February 2012 seeking explanation from M/s OPG Power Gujarat Ltd as to why the clearance issued to them under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 on 16th September 2011 should not be kept in abeyance in the light of serious violations by the company in the construction of a 300 MW Thermal Power Plant in the ecologically sensitive Bhadreshwar coast in, Mundra taluka, Kutch District, Gujarat.

This information came to light during a hearing of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 8th February 2012 where three separate cases against M/s OPG are being heard challenging environment clearance (issued under Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006) and CRZ clearance as well as initiating construction without seeking approval under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land for non-forest use. The cases have been filed by the representatives of the fishing community, salt pan workers and grazing community whose livelihood will be affected with the construction of the project.

The notice states that while seeking approval under the CRZ notification, M/s OPG did not disclose before the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) that the route of the sea water pipeline will involve use of forest land. The notice adds that, "the disclosure of information after appraisal of the project amounts to suppersession of information by the project proponent before the Ministry and the EAC at the time of appraisal"

It is important to note that the maps submitted by M/s OPG for CRZ clearance have also not disclosed the presence of forest land near the project area and in the route of the sea water pipeline. According to the show cause notice, M/s OPG has claimed in its reply affidavit in Application No. 32 of 2011 before the National Green Tribunal, that they realised that the sea water pipeline will pass through forest land only after the CRZ clearance had been approved.

Earlier on 15th December 2010, the MoEF had issued a show cause notice to M/s OPG Power Gujarat Ltd as they had initiated construction without procuring the necessary CRZ clearance. The CRZ clearance had been issued on 16.9.2011 following which M/s OPG had applied for approval under FCA, 1980 on 17th October 2011.

In Solidarity

Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan
Bhadreshwar Village, Mundra Taluk, Kutch District,
Gujarat. Pin 370411