December 16, 2021 9:25:12 am
An NGO, Hazira Kantha Vistar Odhyogik Pradushan Niravaran Samithi (HKVOPNS), has demanded the closure of Arcelor Mittal and Nippon Steel (AM/NS) plant in Hazira till the villagers’ complaints of pollution were examined and sought a thorough investigation into the environmental clearances provided to the company by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
In a memorandum filed before Secretary, Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) New Delhi, Chairman of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Delhi, Additional Chief secretary to Forest and Environment department, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Chairman of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Gandhinagar, GPCB Surat Regional officer and Surat District Collector, the NGO alleged that the company’s Hazira plant had not complied with the Environment Clearance (EC) conditions and made no mandatory disposal in line with the environment clearance conditions and had expanded the plant without due clearance.
In a public hearing held in September at Hazira for the company’s proposed modification to the existing plant and its plans to install auxiliary facilities and seek environmental clearance for the same, residents of some 70 villages in the 10-kilometre area complained about water, air, and land pollution by the company. They said that their crops were damaged due to air pollution and water pollution was causing health issues.
The public hearing was headed by GPCB Surat regional officers and district collector along with AM/NS company representatives who assured the villagers that necessary steps would be taken.
The latest complaint citing the Environment Impact Assessment report for the project claims that “based on the comparison of the satellite imagery freely available on Google Earth, it has come to the notice of the NGO that most of the plant units shown as proposed have been constructed already. A unit-by-unit comparison of satellite images of 2017 and 2020-21 makes the fact clear… This confirms the fact that the company has no regard for the environmental legislation, especially the EIA notification 2006 (amended), and is carrying out its operation in the most careless manner with total disregard to the environment and health of the villagers…”.
Talking to The Indian Express, HKVOPNS convener Dipak Patel said, “We have demanded immediate action on our complaint so that villagers staying in the vicinity of the company can get relief. Due to such pollution, several villagers were forced to migrate to Surat city. In our complaint, we have requested the authorities to form an expert committee comprising scientists, officials and our local representatives to address the key pollution issues and its study on the plants lacking pollution control facilities. The outcome should be implemented… Till then the AM/NS plant should be closed down by MoEFCC and GPCB.”
Talking to The Indian Express, Surat District Collector Ayush Oak said, “We have got the complaint from the NGO and we are looking into the issues.”
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