Home » Opposition parties must support villagers of Mundra against Adani’s shipbreaking project

Opposition parties must support villagers of Mundra against Adani’s shipbreaking project

Aadni’s proposal for shipbreaking unit in Mundra disregards grave
lessons from Alang’s environmental crisis
New Delhi/Mundra April 28, 2014: Opposition parties must unite in
support of villagers of Mundra Taluk of Kachchh district, Gujarat
against the new ship breaking/recycling facility proposed by Gautam
Adani led Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZL).
There is an urgent need for a White Paper on the cumulative impact of
dismantling of more than 6000 end-of-life ships of developed countries
on Bhavnagar’s Alang beach since 1983 before considering Adani’s
proposal for environmental clearance. Alang beach has been colonized
by the global shipping companies and they have turned it into the most
polluted beach in the world with the complicity of Gujarat and Central
Government. The plan to replicate the Alang model of development in
Mundra shows the obstinate refusal of the political parties in general
and the ruling party in particular to learn any lessons.
Following villagers’ strong opposition at the public hearing on July
30, 2013 for the new ship-breaking facility near Mundra West Port in
Gujarat’s Kutch district proposed by Gautam Adani led Adani Ports and
Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZL), as of April 2014 the decision
on environmental and costal regulatory zone clearance to has been
withheld by the Union Ministry of Environment (MoEF)’s Experts
Appraisal Committee (EAC) seeking detailed action plan. Given the fact
that EAC under tremendous political pressure to grant it environmental
clearance, it is not surprising that EAC is yet act on the complaints
of the villagers and environmental groups into cognizance. EAC appears
indulgent towards the project as it seems to be treating the project
in a fait accompli manner.
Notably, despite the fact that the project in question is yet to get
clearance, construction and dredging work for the project is under way
in Mundra. Many mangroves have been destroyed. Thousands of acres of
land have been reclaimed. As per the satellite image of 2001, there
were mangroves, sand dunes, grass and a forest of babul trees, which
are not seen at present and have been demolished. Work has already
been commenced for the recycling project even before seeking
permission. This shows that the project proponent has violated every
relevant rule in the rulebook.
When villagers started questioning, P. N. Roy Chowdhury, an IAS
officer who serves as the Joint President of Strategic Planning,
APSEZL and head of company environment department failed to provide
convincing replies to the villagers during the public hearing. P. N.
Roy Chowdhury has served as Principal Secretary to Government of
Gujarat.
So far EAC has failed to take cognizance of the video footage of the
public hearing which has been available by Centre for Science and
Environment over here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVFhARmz02Q.
Notably, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB)’s role in matter
concerning environmental pollution from Bhavnagar’s Alang beach based
ship breaking activities have never inspired confidence. GPCB should
refrain from giving NOC to the proposed shipbreaking unit in Mundra.
Naran Gadhavi, of Kheti Vikas Seva Trust who was present at the
hearing stated that villagers are totally opposed to the proposed ship
breaking facility. His attached pictures of Indian date which had huge
production in the Mundra area before Adani’s project activity
adversely affected their production. There were some 454 people
present at the public hearing as per the 655 page report prepared by
GPCB.
Mundra West Port is located near Vandh Village in Mundra Taluk of
Kutch district in Gujarat about 16 km south-west of Mundra. The
project is within the port limits notified as Special Economic Zone
(SEZ). The proposed ship recycling facility measures 40.7432 hectare
adjacent to the existing Mundra West Port. Adani’s own EIA report
admits that, “at present most of the land is still submerged and only
a minor portion is located in the inter-tidal zone.”
Its report reveals that “the land for the project is being created by
dumping dredge spoils, generated due to expansion of Mundra West Port,
up to 7.0 m above the chart datum.” It is admitted that in Indian
waters, “the ships are scrapped directly on the beaches or the vast
inter-tidal mudflats exposed daily by about 10m tidal gauge. The
beaching method of the Indian sub-continent relies heavily on low
labour cost, since it involves very little mechanisation.” This
beaching method which Adani’s company proposes in Mundra is fatally
flawed.
It is clear that in a tactical and clever manner the company has taken
environmental clearance for its various projects in the proposed
region in installments by outwitting the regulatory agencies. This
ploy is apparent when one reads in its claim in the Draft EIA report
that “APSEZL had received Environmental and CRZ Clearance for Water
Front Development Clearance from the Ministry of Environment and
Forests…” This truncated approach in grant of environmental clearances
“has led to massive ecological changes with adverse impacts” the
committee observed. The proposed ship-breaking facility is bound to
aggravate the situation if cumulative and induced impact is taken into
consideration.
Environmental groups like ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Conservation
Action Trust and Paryavaran Mitra have termed APSEZL as a habitual
violator of environmental laws that has adversely impacted the
environment and the livelihood of the fishing communities. Its
proposal for ship breaking facility in Mundra is a threat to both the
terrestrial and marine environment as well as to public health. In
view of such concerns, they have demanded that no environmental
clearance should be granted for the proposed project. TWA had written
to the Supreme Court constituted Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) on
Ship breaking, Government of India New Delhi on why Adani’s proposed
ship breaking facility in Mundra, Gujarat’s Kachchh should not be
allowed. The letter is available
here:http://www.toxicswatch.org/2013/07/why-adanis-proposed-ship-breaking.html
Notably, Adani Group has got land for its port and SEZ project at a
rate between Rs 1 and Rs 32 per square metre from the Gujarat
government and despite resistance from villagers land was acquired for
Adani’s APSEZ which is India’s largest SEZ spread across 15,946.32
acres in Kutch district’s Mundra block.
There is no justification for destruction of mangroves, leveling of
sand dunes and adverse impacts on agriculture in Mundra by the
proposed shio breaking unit of Adani’s. The struggle to save them
deserves the support of all the peoples’ organizations, movements and
progressive political parties. Adani’s record of environmental
destruction and non-compliance with regulations is highly
unsatisfactory.
All the political parties who oppose the anti-people and
anti-environment projects must help the villager by paying a visit to
Mundra and extending their support to the struggle in Mundra.
Villagers are opposing it because the proposed project will result in
destruction of mangroves, leveling of sand dunes and adverse impacts
on agriculture. The political forces who are opposed to SEZs and their
disastrous implications have a compelling logic to raise their voice
against APSEZL’s project. Global shipping companies have used ship
breaking units in India as dumping ground of hazardous wastes and
end-of-life toxic ships of developed countries and shipping companies
in the name of recycling. Instead of imposing complete ban on
hazardous waste trade Gujarat Government is promoting it and
compromising India’s maritime security.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA),

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