Mithi Virdi Nuclear Plant: Experts pick holes in enviornment report


DNA, Ahmedabad, 8 March 2013

Ahmedabad: Experts are already questioning the environment impact assessment (EIA) of the proposed 6000-MW nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar prepared by Engineers India Limited. Why has the report not mentioned the water bodies present in the area where the plant is coming up? Or elaborated on the hazardous industries in its vicinity?

Speaking at a press conference in the city, Dr V Pugazhendi, who has extensively studied the impact of radiation on health, made his dissent quite clear. “It is mentioned that the plant shouldn’t be close to any water body, yet the area where the plant is coming up has two water bodies,” he said.

He said the report also fails to mention the presence of hazardous industries near the nuclear project site. “The EIA report states that the Sosiya ship breaking yard is 4 km from the site while in reality it is only 700 metres from the site,” he said. He added that nuclear plants need 100% pure water and the project plans to use a desalination plant to make use of water from the sea. “But the presence of Sosiya ship breaking yard has already polluted the water and there is evidence to show the presence of heavy metal in the water. How will the plant clean such heavily polluted water?” he asked.

Pugazhendi also said that the report failed to mention the presence of lignite mining taking place in the area. “It is sitting on the Cambay basin fault line and mining only adds to the danger,” he explained.

Also voicing their points of protests were villagers who had staged a walk-out at the environmental public hearing held earlier this week at Navagaam in connection with the project.

“Government officials are allowed to seek the advice of experts, but we are not,” said Baluben of Neshwad village, 25 km away from the proposed nuclear plant. According to Baluben, she and other villagers chose to walk out after the collector refused to allow outsiders (experts) to speak at the meeting. Close to 5,000 people had walked out of the hearing after the collector allegedly refused to let the villagers speak first.

Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti said that the hearing did not follow the proper rules. “There were songs being played exalting the benefits of nuclear power. This is against the rules. You cannot do such things, yet the collector was a mute spectator to this,” said Prajapati.

 

Public walk out of hearing for Mithi Virdi nuclear power project


Ankur Paliwal
down to earth
2013-3-5

Residents say public hearing was illegal and organised without a proper rehabilitation plan for the project-affected

Ankur PaliwalPhoto: Ankur Paliwal

People of villages to be affected by the proposed Mithi Virdi nuclear power project in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district walked out of the public hearing organised for the project on Tuesday. About 24 villages within a 10 km radius of the project will be directly affected by the 6,000 MW capacity power plant, proposed to be built Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). People of these villages wanted civil society members and experts to speak on their behalf at the public hearing, which the collector disallowed. Angered by the official’s adamant stand, residents, numbering about 5,000, staged a walkout.

The public hearing held at Navagam village was presided over by the collector of Bhavnagar, V P Patel, and organised by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. When the collector asked NPCIL to make a presentation on the project, the sarpanch of Jaspara village (it adjoins Mithi Virdi village), Shaktisinh Gohil, stood up and intervened. He said the village residents should be allowed to speak first because the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the project was invalid. He further said that since the village residents were not knowledgeable or articulate enough, experts and non-profit organisations should be allowed to speak on their behalf. But the collector insisted that people who are not affected by the project can only give their representation in writing.

After leaving the public hearing venue, Gohil told gathered media persons that he had called up the collector the previous night, requesting him that activists who were well-versed with the subject be allowed to speak on behalf of the residents. “The collector told me on phone that outsiders would not be allowed to speak. The residents then decided that they would again make the request at the public hearing venue,” he said. “We walked out because the public hearing was illegal,” he said while adding that the collector’s stand was not correct because there is a Delhi High Court ruling of 2009 that states outsiders can participate in a public hearing.

The Delhi High Court order in the case of Samarth Trust and Other v Union of India & Others W.P.(C) 9317 of 2009, said: “….prima facie, that so far as a public hearing is concerned, its scope is limited and confined to those locally affected persons residing in the close proximity of the project site. However, in our opinion, the Notification does not preclude or prohibit persons not living in the close proximity of the project site from participating in the public hearing – they too are permitted to participate and express their views for or against the project.”

EIA invalid, flawed

Gohil also said that the EIA for the project is invalid as it has been prepared by a consultant (Engineers India Ltd or EIL) which is not accredited to prepare such reports for nuclear power plants.

Activists who came for the public hearing said the EIA for the project is flawed. “It (EIA report) does not have a proper resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) plan for the project affected people, which is still in the making. How can the authorities go ahead with the public  hearing without an R&R plan?” asked Rohit Prajapati of Vadodara-based NGO, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti. He further added that only the 24 villages directly affected by the project were invited to the public hearing, while 128 other villages that are within a 30 km radius of the project were left out.

Asked if the public hearing would be organised again in view of the public boycott, GPCB regional officer A V Shah said that board considers the consultations as concluded. He said 47 objections and representations were submitted during the scheduled time for public hearing and that these would be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests which mandates public hearing as a pre-condition for grant of environment clearance.

Shah said that as per the public hearing notification, the project developer (NPCIL) should speak or make a presentation first. “We went by the law. If the public had objections they could have voiced them after the presentation,” he said.

With regard to engaging EIL as consultant, P M Shah, chief engineer with NPCIL, said that the firm’s application is pending with the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NAEBT). The board has allowed EIL to continue their work in the nuclear power sector in conjunction with Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and NPCIL, he added.

‘Won’t part with fertile land’

The residents are opposed to giving away their land because it is very fertile. Samuben Dabhi, sarpanch of Mithi Virdi village, said that most of the farmers take three crops every year. Forty-two-year-old Ramji Bhai has 25 bighas (8.7 bighas make a hectare) of land on which he grows mango, cheeku and vegetables “I easily make Rs 7-8 lakh every year with very less input cost because of the high fertility of the land. It gives everything to me and my family to lead a happy life,” said Ramji Bhai. “Why would I give away my land when I do not need money or employment from the company?” he asked.

The sarpanch of Jaspara said residents now plan to take legal action against the authorities for conducting an illegal public hearing.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/public-walk-out-hearing-mithi-virdi-nuclear-power-project

 

Activists send notice to Union forest minister over public hearing


Indian Express, Ahmedabad, 5 March 2013

Activists have sent legal notices to various authorities, including Minister of Environment & Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, for proceeding with the public hearing for the Mithi Virdi nuclear power plant even as the consultant for the project is not properly accredited.

“If the Environment Public Hearing dated March 5 of proposed nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi is not cancelled as well as the incomplete, illegal EIA prepared by a non-accredited consultant be rejected, we will be left with no choice but to take legal action against you as an individual and the concerned authorities,” the activists, under the umbrella of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, said in the notice.

The Indian Express had reported earlier that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had asked project proponent Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to clarify why it had hired a consultant not fully accredited to assess nuclear power plants to draw up the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the 6,000 MW project.

The consultants, Engineers India Limited (EIL), had clarified they have applied for accreditation with QCI-NABET, the accrediting agency. No change in schedule was considered after that.

Activists and protesters have not been convinced of the report’s reliability and have “picked holes” in the report. They have sent at least five different letters regarding this to the authorities, asking the public hearing be either cancelled or postponed and the draft EIA report withdrawn. They are yet to get a response, they said.

The GPCB maintains that the contested report is only a draft report and that the board’s role is merely to help the district collector conduct the public hearing, record the proceedings and forward it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

he plant at Mithi Virdi will be the country’s first nuclear power plant to use US technology and is a maiden project under the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement.

Local opposition against the project has mounted since the Fukushima disaster in Japan as well as by the site selection — almost four-fifths of the 777 hectares earmarked for the project site is fertile agricultural land producing both kharif and rabi crops.

 

GPCB did not verify envt impact of Mithi Virdi, say activists


DNA,  March 2013

Activists protesting the Environmental Public Hearing (EPH) to be conducted by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in connection with the 6,000 MW nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district met GPCB officials on Saturday.

The officials have agreed to look into their grievances. Michael Madgaonkar of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti said that as per the judgment of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol dated May 4, 2012, of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh, GPCB is yet to verify the claims made in the project report. “However, in this case it has not bothered to cross-check the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by Engineers India Limited,” said Madgaonkar.

But, in-charge member secretary of GPCB, KC Mistry when contacted said that they had checked all the necessary documents and found them to be in order. “Nonetheless, we have decided to check the reports once again, since several activists have approached us with concerns about the environment,” said Mistry. He said that as far as canceling the EPH was concerned, it was not in the hands of the GPCB. “The GPCB does not have the authority to cancel the hearing,” reported Mistry.

Madgaonkar, meanwhile, said that if the GPCB and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) did not pay heed to the grave concerns raised in connection with the nuclear plant, they may be forced to go to court. “If nothing is done, we are mulling legal action against both the GPCB and MoEF,” he insisted.

It should be noted that the NGO has already written several letters to the MoEF and the prime minister in this connection. They have also highlighted the lack of a detailed risk assessment and disaster management plan in the EIA report. The activists have alleged that the EIA report only mentions the need to include such a plan but does not provide a blueprint of the plan, which they consider important

 

#Guajarat- Mithi Virdi N-plant environment impact assessment report ignores plight of project affect


February 28, 2013

Sreedhar

By Ashok Shrimali* 
In an authoritative move, top environmentalist-scientist R Sreedhari, managing trustee of the Environics Trust, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P), has asked Union environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan to urgently cancel the environmental public hearing due to be held on March 5 for the proposed nuclear power plant off Mithi Virdi in Gujarat. Sreedhar believes, the hearing is being held against the backdrop of “non-compliance of key aspects of the terms of reference (TOR) prepared by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) meeting, held on February 14, 2011 for the proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant.” The TOR was handed over to the Engineers India Limited (EIL), who have prepared by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the proposed plant. Sreedhar says, the public hearing has been announced by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in direct contrast to the policies of your government and the TOR specified by your industry – that prime agricultural land should not be used for industrial purpose. “The location of the site with 78 per cent of double cropped land for the plant not only indicates the lack of sensitivity in the choice of area for acquisition but also that the state and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), which has undertaken the project”, he points out, adding, “This would put more people to risk, as settlements would be too close to the nuclear plant.”
The senior activist-scientist says, ”Your Government has repeatedly emphasized the need to identify non-agricultural lands for industrial development and this exercise is more like a fait-accompli. The EIA report does not talk about the impacts of taking away such a huge proportion of prime agricultural land, but on the contrary presents a denigrating attitude towards the farming activities and the farming communities.”
Sreedhar quotes the EIA report on the impact on land to prove his point: “The impact on land environment during construction phase shall be due to generation of debris/ construction material, which shall be properly collected and disposed of. There will be no accumulation of drainage on the higher elevation side as the site will be graded. A garland drain network is developed to collect and route the drain water towards sea. No impact is envisaged due to the same.” 
The EIA report goes on to add, “All wastes generated are segregated as solid and hazardous wastes and collected together for disposal. All such wastes will be transported to authorized disposal agency. Accordingly, there shall be no additional load on land environment during operation phase of the project.” 
Further: “For establishing soil characteristics within the study area, soil samples from 10 locations were collected and analysed for relevant parameters. The soil of the proposed site is silty loam type. At present, most of the land is under cultivated and sparse scrub vegetation also exists in the study area. However, with the introduction of the project, the land use pattern of the area will improve with neat and clean project buildings, lawns and gardens. The area in the exclusion zone around the project will be developed into a green belt as per the requirements of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and GPCB. This will further improve the aesthetic and land use environment at the proposed project site.” 
Pointing out that he does not go into “the gross inadequacies of the entire EIA report and such flimsy statements that are being made in the name of scientific and technical studies and defended by none other than NPCIL”, Sreedhar emphasizes, “If there were specific issues we would have offered it as our submission during the public hearing, but to conduct a public hearing without even adhering to the minimum TOR fixed by the government is a mockery of the process, and hence we seek your intervention to cancel this public hearing and issue strictures to the GPCB for its lack of oversight. The reality is the EIA has not even identified who will be impacted and what will be impacted and to what extent and is a generic document will some data which has neither any use to local understanding or implications.”
Sreedhar says, “One of the issues clearly pointed out in the TOR and is fundamental to any dialogue with public is to know the project affected people (PAP) and the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) plan. The point number (xiv) in the TOR states,‘Application of R&R policy may be described. Project affected persons should be identified and rehabilitation and resettlement plan should be prepared.’ The section on R&R in the EIA report is totally hypothetical and does not even say how many households would be affected.”
Sreedhar further quotes from the EIA will to suggest how it is “very obvious” that “a fraud is being played on the public in the name of public hearing”.

The EIA report states: “Preparation of a detailed R&R plan is taken up for compensation to the PAP in line with the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy – 2007 and in consultation with Gujarat State Government for the PAP. Discussions are being held with district collector /commissioner of the concerned area for compensation for land and landed properties.
“The NPCIL policy envisages a special focus on the creation and up-gradation of skill sets of landless persons and other PAPs, who are dependent upon agricultural operations over the acquired land, and for the rural artisans e.g. blacksmiths, carpenters, potters, masons etc., who contribute to the society together, to improve their employability. With the help of district administration, the essential inputs containing lists of land losers and PAPs are being prepared. NPCIL is committed to establish requisite system for organizing vocational and formal training and education for all such identified persons and extend full assistance to them to become eligible for seeking employment with the project proponent or any other organized sector. NPCIL is committed to implement the R&R package as per the mutual agreement with the State Government.” 

Comments Sreedhar: “Given the fact that these have yet to be accomplished, why are the NPCIL and GPCB in such a hurry to conduct the public hearing without providing the necessary basic information for a meaningful public hearing? We sincerely hope that you will be seized of this, as you have done in issues of environmental importance and natural justice and order the cancellation of this public hearing and instruct the proponent to furnish at least the basic information relevant to the people.”
Sreedhar further quotes a judgment of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in CWP No 586 of 2010 along with CWPIL No. 15 of 2009, which pronounced certain guidelines, which should not be violated. These are:
“a) The HP State Pollution Control Board shall ensure that consent to establish is not granted just for the asking. Even at the time when consent to establish is granted the HP State Pollution Control Board, MoEF/EAC shall verify the facts stated in the project report and they shall also indicate to the project proponent what are the para-meters and the laws which the project proponent will have to comply with keeping in view the nature of the project.
“b) The statement made by the project proponent shall not be accepted without verification. It shall also be made clear that if any statement made by the project proponent is found to be false the permissions granted shall automatically stand cancelled.
“c) The Pollution Control Board shall ensure that whenever any public hearing is held, the people of the area are well informed about the public hearing and they are also informed about the benefits and the illeffects of the project. The Pollution Control Board must have its own machinery and own scientists who should give an independent opinion on the pros and cons of the project. These shall also be placed on the website of the PCB.
“d) In future whenever any studies are being carried out by any project proponent while preparing the EIA reports, the study shall be carried out only after notice to the State Pollution Control Board, MoEF/EAC in case the project requires clearance at the central level and also to the inhabitants of the area where such studies are to be carried out and project has to be established. Notice to the public shall be given in the same manner notice of public hearing is given.”

Based on this, Sreedhar, who has sent copies of the letter to all concerned officials of the Gujarat government and the Government of India, concludes, “The NPCIL and GPCB must go back to the drawing board and conduct authentic studies, inform people and then become eligible to conduct the public hearing, until which time no permission should be granted to them including the 21 ha of forest land being sought by the agency.”*Ashok Shrimali is Ahmedabad-based social activist working with NGOs Setu and Samata, and is executive member, Mines Minerals and People (MM&P)

 

#India- Draft approval for new Indian nuclear site #WTFnews


 

28 January 2013

A new six-unit nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat will be “environmentally benign and sustainable” while benefitting the region both economically and socially, said a draft assessment on behalf of the proposing company.

The study was carried out for Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) by Engineers India Ltd. (EIL), itself an Indian government-led organisation, to set out to establish baseline environmental data for the project to build up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors at the coastal site 40 kilometers from Bhavnagar. It also evaluated potential impacts of the project and formulated environmental management plans for both the construction and operation phase. EIL collected data within a ten-kilometer radius of the site over three seasons (summer, post-monsoon and winter) from December 2010 to November 2011 to prepare its report.

Mithi Virdi received approval in principle from the Indian government as a site for up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors in 2009. In 2012 US reactor vendor Westinghouse signed a memorandum of understanding with NPCIL agreeing to negotiate an early works agreement for the construction of up to six AP1000 units at the site. According to the preliminary environmental impact assesment (EIA), the project is not anticipated to have any significant impact on local flora, fauna or human activities. The report details the planned systems to manage gaseous, liquid and solid radioactive wastes and keep discharges below the required limits in normal operation as well as the passive safety design and engineered safety features of the plant.

Based on its findings, the report concluded that the planned Mithi Virdi project would be “environmentally benign and sustainable” and would provide “much needed electricity with minimal environmental impact”. It noted that the project will benefit the region generally and contribute to improved social conditions, with NPCIL contributing towards “uplifting” of the surrounding areas and positive impacts including employment, better transport facilities, and improvements to basic education, health and infrastructure in the area.

The power plant project is expected to be completed in three stages, with the first two units pencilled in for completion in 2019-2020, the second two units in 2021-2022 and the final stage completed in 2023-24. The cost is still under negotiation.

Mithi Virdi is one of four sites for which NPCIL is currently involved in pre-project activities. The others are Gorakhpur (Haryana), earmarked for four Indian-designed 700 MWe pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWRs); Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), where six GE-Hitachi ESBWR units are planned; and Chutaka (Madhya Pradesh), earmarked for two indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs. A final EIA for the Gorakhpur plant has been submitted to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests for appraisal, while preliminary EIAs are still in preparation for Kovvada and Chutaka.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

 

An Open Letter to the People of Russia- from Million of Indian Citizens


A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam

A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)

May 16, 2012

 
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District
koodankulam@yahoo.com
pushparayan@gmail.com
An Open Letter to the People of Russia
Dear Sisters and Brothers of Russia:
Greetings!
We, several millions of people from the southernmost tip of India, are writing to you to send our love and seek your support for the peaceful and nonviolent struggle that we have been waging for the past nine months against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). This mega nuclear power park is being built with Russian loan and technology against the will and wishes of the local people.
The Indian authorities have not conducted any public hearing to seek our permission or consent for this project. They have not shared the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, the Site Evaluation Study, and the Safety Analysis Report with our people. After a long and hard struggle of more than 22 years, we have just obtained a copy of the EIA report which is outdated and so full of inaccuracies and incomplete information.
After two years of application and appeal, we have just got an order from the Center Information Commission (CIC) of India that we must have copies of the Site Evaluation Study, and the Safety Analysis Report to ensure and enhance public safety. The Site Evaluation Study is very important because there are some undisclosed secrets about the siting of the reactors 1 and 2. The Russian scientists and engineers had strong objections over the Indian engineers’ and scientists’ shifting the sites from the ones that the former had chosen for the reactors 1 and 2. It was reported here in the local newspapers that the Russians had left the project site in disgust but the entire episode was covered up by the officials here. And they have refused to divulge any information until now.
Similarly, the authorities refuse to give us a copy of the Safety Analysis Report saying that it contains proprietary information of the Russian company, Atomstroyexport (ASE). Please understand that we are not interested in any such information but the rest of the report is important for our safety and security. The Indian authorities refuse to give this report also.
Our people have no information about the Koodankulam project and whatever little information we have is in English which most people in our area do not understand. Moreover, the authorities have not given us any disaster training or evacuation exercise to safeguard our families in case of an accident at the Koodankulam site. With high and dense population in our area, we desperately need complete safety and evacuation drills.
Our expert team claims that there are serious hydrology, geology, oceanography and seismology issues involved in the Koodankulam nuclear project and hence we demand a complete and thorough probe into all these issues. After all, this area has been hit by the 2004 tsunami, and there have been several small to big earthquakes in the Indian Ocean rendering the Koodankulam site vulnerable. But the Indian authorities summarily reject our legitimate demand to study these concerns. Similarly, both the Indian and the Russian governments have signed a secret Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on liability and they refuse to share a copy of that with us. Our officials are silent about the amount and management of the nuclear waste from the Koodankulam project also.
There are credible reports that the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief is making frequent visits to Moscow and taking orders from the KGB. Already the Russian Ambassador to India has been interfering in the internal affairs of India by making unwanted statements about our energy policy issues and other related subjects.
Please do understand that we want your country to prosper and become strong. We also like our country to do business with Russia at the bilateral level and through multilateral institutions such as RIC, BRICS etc. But we certainly do not want any business in the dangerous nuclear sector. Would you please request your lawmakers not to support the Koodankulam nuclear power project or more reactors in India. We desperately need your kind cooperation and help to safeguard the right to life and livelihood of millions of our fisherfolks, farmers, workers, women, youth and children.
Let us together secure the interests of our children and grandchildren and leave a clean, green and safe Earth for them all. Looking forward to your support and solidarity, we send you our best regards and all peaceful wishes.
Cordially,
Millions of Indian Citizens

Immediate Release—-MoEF Rejects Forest Clearance to Kalu Dam in Maharshtra


 

MMRDA, KIDC and Mah Govt has a lot to answer for

 

In a significant decision, on the 2nd April 2012, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests rejected granting Forest Clearance to Kalu Dam, coming up in the Western Ghats of Murbad Taluka in Thane District. Kalu is just one of the 10+ large dams coming up around Mumbai, which are all showing blatant disregard for any environmental, social or procedural laws.

 

Kalu Dam would have submerged nearly 1000 hectares (2200 acres) of forest in the global biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats, just 7 kilometres from the Kalsubai Sanctuary. Apart from forest land submergence, the dam was set to submerge 18 villages and affect 18000 inhabitants, mostly Tribals who have been entirely dependent on their forests and river for survival.

 

The Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC), who was building this dam, being financed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has shown utter ‘lack of respect to the laws of the land’, as per the report from the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests. The work started on the dam site more than a year back and hundreds of trees were cut, without a Forest Clearance, blatantly violating the Forest Conservation Act (1980) and the Forest Rights Act (2006). When Shramik Mukti Sangathana and SANDRP approached the officials about this, they were told by KIDC engineers that ‘in order to reach a destination fast, we have to jump signals!” These broken signals include No Forest Clearance, No Environmental Impact Assessment or the Environment Management Plan for the project, No Social Impact Assessment, No Rehabilitation and Resettlement plan in Place, No Wildlife Management plan, No options assessment, No Public consultations amongst many more.

 

The dam construction had already started in full swing in the last year itself, breaking multiple laws like PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, Forest Rights Act and ForestConservation Act.

 

Shramik Mukti Sangathana had filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court against the dam in June 2011. When the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Central zone made a visit to the dam site in October 2011, he was taken aback at the extent of destruction taking place in the absence of any clearances and in his strong-worded report submitted to the MoEF, pointed out the proponent had no respect for the laws of the land and took permission from MoEF for granted. Significantly, KIDC gave work order to contractor in May 2011, but submitted the proposal to MoEF only in August 2011. KIDC also grossly underestimated the number of trees to be felled and villages which will be affected. It did not even consider those villages which were to be cut off by the dam.

 

According to MMRDA, of the approximately 850 crore budget of Kalu, more than 112 crores have been already given to KIDC. It is shocking that MMRDA and our Irrigation Department allocated, released and spent such a huge amount of public money on a dam illegally, destroyed land, forests, river and the villages without taking any requisite permission or without any respect to multiple gramsabha resolutions against the project, violating the PESA.

 

The Forest Advisory Committee, while “recommending to close this case” has said that “it has taken note of the complaints received about this dam and also that State Government has not submitted any of the reports requested by the MoEF”.

 

Shramik Mukti Sangathana and SANDRP have been following this matter for over a year and we had sent representations to the MoEF and Forest Advisory Committee since May  2011, providing them with photographic and documentary evidences of the illegal work going on at Kalu. While we welcome FAC’s decision to reject Forest clearance to Kalu, we urge the MoEF to take punitive action against those responsible for violating the FRA, PESA and Forest Act, from the proponent as well as the contractor. There are multiple dams coming up in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats around Mumbai and a punitive measure will set an example for the other dams coming up too. Most of these dams have no EIA, EMP, Env Clearance, public consultations, options assessment, Social Impact Assessment, or independent monitoring and scrutiny. They all displace tribals without their consent or without just R&R plans. And most of them are not even necessary as better options exist. We also urge MoEF to change the EIA notification to ensure that the dams are not allowed without EIA, public hearings and environment clearance. The Union Environment Minister in any should not even consider giving forest clearance to the project, over ruling the FAC decision, as she did in case of the 300 MW Alaknanda hydro project of GMR in Uttarakhand, which now the National Green Tribunal has stayed.

 

Indavi Tulpule, Shramik Mukti Sangathan, Thane, indavi.t@gmail.com,             09869656073

Parineeta Dandekar, www.sandrp.in, Pune, parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com,             09860030742

 

 

Minister stops fresh Vedanta bid to mine Niyamgiri hills


NEW DELHI, ET, 18TH April: Environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan nixed yet another attempt by Vedanta to get Niyamgiri bauxite mines in Odisha that Rahul Gandhi had stood up against, saving the Congress and its scion some blushes.

On Tuesday, she ordered that the preliminary nod given by her ministry to the expansion of Vedanta’s aluminium refinery, which the company had claimed would source 150 million tonnes of bauxite from Niyamgiri mines in Lanjigarh, be held in abeyance which effectively puts the project on hold.

The environment ministry had earlier cancelled the forest clearance to Vedanta for mining Niyamgiri hills for violation of green norms and hauled up the company for expanding the linked aluminium refinery without mandatory environmental clearance. It asked the company to file an application afresh for the expansion of the refinery. Vedanta went to the Supreme Court against the ban on mining.

Alongside, the company filed a fresh application for expansion of the aluminium refinery. But without a word on the existing rigmarole over Niyamgiri mines, the company said it would source 150 million tonnes of bauxite from the Lanjigarh mines.

Disregarding the fact that the ministry had rejected Vedanta’s bid for Lanjigarh mines, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) division of the ministry gave preliminary nod to the project asking it to go ahead and hold a public hearing on the project based on the EIA report. The report of the company too did not mention, as required, that the claimed source of raw material was bound in legal disputes.

Sources said Natarajan stepped in when informed and put the preliminary nod given by her officers to Vedanta on hold. The public hearing now stands cancelled till the ministry takes a final view on the case.

The EIA report of Vedanta accessed by TOI reads, “Orissa Mining Corporation will ensure supply of bauxite, which is main raw material for the alumina refinery, to the tune of 150 million tonnes from Lanjigarh bauxite deposit located in Niyamgiri hill ranges and other deposits around the plant.”

Interestingly, the company, as per its own documents, had got the scientific and environmental data generated for the assessment report even before the terms for gathering such data had been set by the government. The studies normally are carried out only after the environment ministry informs the project developer about the scope of such research.

The assessment report is put before the affected people in public hearings as per green laws. Approval in the public hearings and addressing concerns raised is essential for all projects. The Orissa government had put out the date for Vedanta’s public hearing based on these flawed reports.

Protest brewing in Kovvada a la Kudankulam


HYDERABAD, January 21, 2012 Y. Mallikarjun

Land acquisition for nuclear plant in A.P. faces stiff resistance

It is the same old story of development versus displacement and the haplessness of the infirm against the might of the state.

With the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement paving the way for India to purchase uranium from the global market, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has lined up a series of nuclear plants in different parts of the country, including one at Kovvada in the backward Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.

Following the tsunami-triggered disaster at Fukushima-Daiichi plant in Japan last year, opposition to nuclear plants is growing in the country. While fierce and widespread protests were witnessed in Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), where one of the two VVER-type reactors ( 2,000 MWe) is ready for operation, people in and around Kovvada are also resisting the proposed establishment of six reactors (1,594 MWe each) to generate 9,564 MWe with an investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore.

Authorities are gearing up to acquire around 2,000 acres at Pedda Kovvada, Chinna Kovvada, Tekkali and Ramachandrapuram. Despite promises of attractive compensation packages, land acquisition is facing stiff resistance from 3,000 families likely to be displaced and civil society groups.

Although Kovvada plant project director G.V. Ramesh claims that 90 per cent of the people are in favour of the project and had given their consent to the Joint Collector, the former Sarpanch, Mylapalli Polisu, rejects any package on the ground that a majority of the people were opposed to the project. “The problem will not end with announcement of the package,” he warns.

“Bleak future”

Another villager, M. Appanna, who was among the group of people taken on a guided tour to the Kalpakkam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu, says he is not convinced by the officials’ argument. “Our future will be bleak as land rates are skyrocketing and many restrictions have been imposed on fishing,” he adds. A local leader, A. Ramulu, says villagers are unable to raise loans or sell properties, leaving them with no choice but to accept the package.

Mr. Ramesh says 1,200 acres to be acquired belonged to the government and it is quite possible to negotiate and meet most of the demands. NPCIL will implement whatever is listed by the government’s policy laying down that land compensation should be four times the existing rates. “They will get a very good package,” he says.

Mr. Ramesh says the technology of the six reactors is the latest — generation III Plus. They are absolutely safe and automatically shut down in case of an earthquake of over 7.2 magnitude. Besides, all the systems are passive. “Once it gets shut down, the reactor’s cooling would take place on its own for a fortnight. Only then, human intervention would be required.”

The former Union Power Secretary, E.A.S. Sarma, a vocal critic of the Kovvada plant, accuses the Andhra Pradesh government of violating rules and ordering forcible acquisition of 2,252 acres. He terms it a ‘decide-and-announce’ approach.

According to him, however low be the probability of a Fukushima-like disaster at Kovvada, the outcome of an accident will not only be extensive but affect future generations too. People exposed to radioactivity can have genetic disorders and cancerous diseases. The low liability cap in the civil nuclear liability law also raise doubts about the safety of the imported reactors.

He says Kovvada is densely populated and within the “exclusion” zone up to 1.5 km from the project site, where no one is expected to live, there are five villages, mostly of fishermen, with 3,504 people, and 560 acres of agricultural land.

Within the “sterilised” zone up to 5 km, where no development will take place, there are 42 villages. In the “emergency planning zone,” up to 16 km, there are 66 villages, while a large number of people are residing in the “impact assessment” zone up to 30 km. The threat of evacuation in the event of an accident will constantly hang over them.

Dr. Sarma says it is premature to start land acquisition even before the Ministry of Environment and Forests has an opportunity to evaluate alternative sites, get an Environmental Impact Assessment study done, hold public consultations and get the project appraised as per the requirement in the Environment (Protection) Act. Those residing in the four zones are yet to be informed of the dangers.

The Department of Atomic Energy has failed to comply with the disclosure norms set out in Section 4 of the RTI Act. “Forcible land acquisition against this background amounts to gross violation of human rights,” he says.

(With contributions from M. Melly Maitreyi, K. Srinivasa Rao & Santosh Patnaik.)

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