The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has recently given its nod to two Bauxite mining projects, located in close proximity to the Marine National Park and a wildlife sanctuary in Jamnagar.
The first environment clearance has been given to New Delh-based M/s Orient Abrasives Ltd for quadrupling the production capacity of Nandana bauxite mine from 30,500 tonnes per annum to 128,00 tonnes per annum. The mine lease area of over 50 hectare in Nandana village of Kalyanpur taluka is designated as government waste land and is located approximately 8.88 km from the national park and 10.10 km from Gaga Wildlife Sanctuary. The company was also accorded an environment clearance in February this year for enchancing the production capacity of the Bauxite mine from 63,000 tonnes per annum to 259,000 tonnes per annum in Mewasa village, located 4.5 km from the Marine National Park.
The second clearance — valid for 18 years — was in the name of Nirmalaben S Mehta. It was for the renewal of Mahadevia and Gandhvi bauxite mine, having a production capacity of 0.46 million tonnes per annum. The mine lease area of 168 hectare is spread over two blocks — Mahadevia (103.48 hectare) and Gandhvi (64.83 hectare) in Kalyanpur taluka of Jamnagar district. The mine is located 6.3 kilometer from the Marine National Park and nine km from the sanctuary.
In the past, both these projects (cleared in this month) were embroiled in litigation for violating the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, that includes enhancing production without obtaining environment clearance. These projects have been given the go-ahead by the Ministry after getting written assurances that such violations “will not be repeated in future”, and these projects do not fall under the eco-sensitive zone. However, there are some mining projects that have been noticed to be functioning within the one-kilometer buffer zone surrounding the national park.
“The eco-sensitive zone which acts as a buffer for the national park extends about 200 meters towards the seaward side and one km towards the land. Recently, we have noticed mining activity cropping up in this eco-sensitive zone and we have issued notices to four mines for necessary compliances,” said Shyamal Tikadar, chief conservator of forests, Marine National Park Circle. Though Tikadar said he had no knowledge about the green nod to two bauxite mining projects, he noted that such activity inside the eco-sensitive zone “would affect terrestrial life within the park”.
In the past few months, there have been several instances of industrial projects coming up near wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat. In March this year, Surat-based KP Energy Ltd was given a coastal regulation zone clearance to set up a 70 MW wind energy project on the coast of Porbander district. The company in its proposal acknowledges that the “sandy coast near the project site is known for sporadic nesting of sea turtles”. It, however, goes on to claim, “In the absence of the project activities during night, no disturbance is envisaged in nesting of sea turtles. Wind farms would not cause significant increase in illumination on the coast and therefore it is not likely to affect sea turtle hatchlings.”