RESIDENTS OF Ratnagiri and environmental activists have raised objections over a captive jetty proposed in Nate village, 4.5 km north of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP). Around 10 days before a scheduled public hearing for the proposed jetty, the activists have pointed out what they claim is plagiarised content in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted for the jetty.
A 4.5-MTPA captive jetty, a bauxite benefication plant, a steel plant and a 105-MW thermal power plant have been proposed by I LOG Ports Private Limited, a subsidiary of Kolkata-based SREI Infrastructure Finance. The EIA was prepared for I LOG by Bhagavathi Ana Labs Pvt Limited, a Bureau Veritas company. The EIA was submitted in August 2015, four months after the Ministry of Environment and Forest defined the terms of references. A public hearing for the project is scheduled on March 23.
Watch What Else Is making News
Members of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti (KVPVS), which had earlier spearheaded the movement against the JNPP, however, have called the EIA fraudulent and have demanded that the public hearing be cancelled. On Tuesday, the members alleged that the EIA was copied from another report prepared by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and some other reports from around the globe.
Satyajit Chavan, the convenor of KVPVS, said that excerpts of the EIA were copied verbatim from a BNHS study. “The paragraphs are the same, word for word,” he said. “The EIA was prepared only for the jetty and not for the other projects proposed within the captive jetty. The project area considered for the EIA is a creek whereas the actual project is on the rocky and sandy shore in Nate,” said Chavan. “If the jetty comes up, it will badly affect the rich marine biodiversity of the area,” he added.
According to Chavan, the matter came to light when the KVPVS sought the help of BNHS in analysing the EIA. Deepak Apte, director of BNHS, later wrote to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. In his letter, Apte said that the project would violate the conditions stipulated in the clearances for the JNPP that categorises the coastal region of Ambolgadh and Kasheli as ecologically sensitive.
“They (the agency that prepared the EIA) are in a way validating our findings but their conclusion is a clear violation of the JNPP clearance. The project will come up on the same plateau that is ecologically sensitive,” said Apte. He said that the BNHS has prepared conservation measures for the region and submitted to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
“The sections about marine ecology have been copied word to word including pictures,” Apte told The Indian Express.
I LOG, however, rubbished the activists’ allegations. “The allegations are baseless. A Bureau Veritas company prepared the EIA after conducting studies in our project area. There are no other ports in that area so there is no chance of copying from any other study,” said Shiv Kedia, associate vice-president of I LOG.
A representative of Bhagvathi Ana Labs, which prepared the EIA report, said they are looking into the matter. “However, there is an ambiguity in understanding the procedure and the report on the part of the activists,” said an official from the company. He added that had the region been ecologically critical, the MoEF wouldn’t have specified the terms of reference for the EIA. “If the MoEF has issued the terms of reference, it means that the area is not ecologically sensitive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ratnagiri collector P Pradeep said that he was aware of the matter but encouraged activists to raise the issues at the public hearing. “Under the Environment (Protection) Act, we have an obligation to conduct a public hearing within a stipulated time and we have already exceeded that. We are only referees in the hearing. The affected persons can voice their concerns during the hearing so that we can officially record them and send to the MoEF,” said Pradeep.