A report by an environment ministry-appointed committee says that it has found incontrovertible evidence against Adani Group of violating environmental norms in its Mundra port and SEZ project. The panel has recommended a fine of Rs 200 crore or 1 per cent of the total project investment,whichever is higher,to restore the damage.
The five member committee headed by Centre for Science and Environment director general Sunita Narain has also recommended the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) to cancel the environmental clearance for the North Port of the Mundra waterfront.
On September 14,2012,the MoEF had constituted the panel for inspection of Adani Port and SEZ Ltd,Mundra,Gujarat after it received complaints from Kheti Vikas Sewa Trust and Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan.
The report points at the groups attempt to bypass the statutory procedures by using different agencies at the Centre and state for obtaining clearances for the same project and bypassing of critical public hearing process.
The report says that satellite imagery shows that the project has caused widespread destruction of mangroves with 75 hectares of mangroves lost in Bocha Island. The company had been permitted access to only 0.25 hectares,which it was to compensate for by afforestation elsewhere.
Sunita Narain noted that the fishing community is the worst hit by these changes and that there should be a plan for to help them.
Recognising that large scale development has already been undertaken and it is not possible or prudent at this stage to halt or cease its operations,the report calls for setting up an Environment Restoration Fund under the chairmanship of the secretary,MoEF. It says the fund can be used specifically for remediation of environmental damage in Mundra and for strengthening the regulatory and monitoring systems.
A statement by Adani Group said,As a responsible corporate,we have been complying with the applicable rules and regulations. We will continue to work closely with the government for preservation of environment and upliftment of the communities in which we operate. We are studying the report in detail and will work out appropriate steps. The North Port has not been developed at all and hence this will not impact the current operations of the company.
Panel noted that due to non-compliance of environmental clearance there has been widespread destruction of mangroves
Calls for an environment restoration fund,which should be 1 per cent of the project cost or Rs 200 crore,whichever is higher
Fund to be used for remediation of environmental damage in Mundra and for strengthening regulatory and monitoring systems