Press Release- Narendra Modi you need to reply to Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG)


modi

PRESS RELEASE

Mr. Narendrabhai Modi replied the questions raised by Non-Resident-Gujaratis (NRG) so we hope that Mr. Modi will also reply the questions of Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG). – Rohit Prajapati & Trupti Shah, Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG)

 

Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah

Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG)

37 Patrakar Colony,  Tandalja Road, Post: Akota,

Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat Phone/Fax No: +91-265-2320399,

Email: rohit.prajapati@gmail.comtrupti.vadodara@gmail.com

By Fax and Email

13 May 2013

To,

Shri Narendrabhai Modi

The Chief Minister of Gujarat

Government of Gujarat

1st Block, 5th Floor, New Sachivalaya,

Gandhinagar – 382 010.

Subject: You replied the questions raised by Non-Resident-Gujaratis (NRG) so we hope that you will also reply the questions of Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG).

Dear Sir,

We Permanent-Resident-Gujaratis (PRG) would like to raise certain issues for your response as we heard in the morning to your replies to the questions raise by the Non-Resident-Gujaratis (NRG). We are also sending the copy of the letter to the press so that you can also give your response to the press. These are not new; we have repeatedly raised these same issues in letters sent to your various departments and directly to you but we have yet to receive a proper reply. Your office always referred these letters to the so-called concerned department even when straight questions were addressed to you. We are ready for dialog in an open meeting with you. We are also prepared to attend a press conference to discuss these issues in the presence of press. We assure you that we are eager to engage in dialog with you, and are sending you our concerns so that the discussion may be thoughtful.

The then Finance Minister of Gujarat Mr. Vajubhai Vala on 11th January 2011 said while addressing a day-long pre-Vibrant Gujarat Summit seminar at Ahmedabad Management Association on ‘Industry Responsive Skill Development: The Emerging Trends in Gujarat’ that “A farmer engaged in agriculture on a five acre plot will earn enough only for his family. But if an industry is set up on that land, it will provide sustenance to families of 25-30 thousand workers.” [1] He asked local industrialists not to spoil workers by giving them more than what is rightfully due to them.[2] We want you to clarify your position on such statements.

(1)   Your book CONVENIENT ACTION – Gujarat’s Response To Challenges of Climate Change selectively presents information and data which are convenient to defend the ‘development model’ being pursued by the state. Even the Gujarat Ecology Commission report acknowledges the abysmal status of the environment in Gujarat. Why did you base your book on cherry-picked evidence that ignores the level of irreversible environmental degradation in the state of Gujarat? You have included in your book on page 132-133 a photo of the ‘Common Effluent Treatment Plant’ of Vapi, a facility which has not been able to fulfil the environmental norms prescribed by Gujarat Pollution Control Board since many years. While the photo is very large, there is no discussion about the functioning of CETP of Vapi. Your book completely ignores the failure of all major ‘industrial effluent treatment facilities’ of Gujarat. Why?

(2)   Gujarat is the only state where all registered chemical factories have been identified and categorized in various hazard classes, by Directorate Industrial Safety and Health. Considering their hazard potential,[3] Major Accident Hazard (MAH) factories are identified as per standard norms of related law. Gujarat state is having highest total 497 MAH Class factories which amounts 30 % of MAH factories in India. At present in Gujarat state, 3204 ‘B’ +’C’ class hazardous chemical factories are identified. Gujarat is having total 30,310 factories registered under the Factories Act ( employing directly 940567 Workers ) out of which total 4,559 (15%) are hazardous chemical factories.[4]

The Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), it seems, doesn’t think that chemical industries have potential to cause chemical disasters in the state. Despite the Bhopal gas tragedy that killed thousands of people 25 years ago, the Gujarat government doesn’t seem to have learnt anything. Reply to our Right to Information Application about Chemical Emergency Plan of the Gujarat state the GSDMA stated in their replies that “A Chemical Emergency Plan is currently under consideration at the Disaster Management Authority.”[5] GSDMA further stated in their replies that “In reference to your above mentioned letter where information like numbers and names of the chemical industries, chemical used, final product, pollutant generated and its impact, also information about engineered landfill site – treatment storage and disposal facility, effluent treatment plants, common effluent treatment plants, etc. have been sought by you, we would like to inform you that the requested information is not available with this office.”[6]

Mr. CM is the chairperson of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority and the same authority has to implement ‘The Gujarat State Disaster Management Act, 2003. The Act clearly states ‘(2) (h) “ disaster”  means an  actual or imminent  event, whether natural or otherwise  occurring in any part of the State which causes, or threatens to cause  all or any of  the following: (i)  widespread loss or damage to property, both immovable and movable; or (ii)  widespread loss of human life or injury or illness to human beings; or (iii)  damage or degradation of environment;’[7] but the web site of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority states ‘The GSDMA has been constituted by the Government of Gujarat by the GAD’s Resolution dated 8th February 2001. The Authority has been created as a permanent arrangement to handle the natural calamities.’[8] What about environmental disasters? There is no ‘Comprehensive Chemical Emergency Plan’ with the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority. The Director, Health & Safety Department has an ‘Off Site Emergency Plan;’ but when I demanded a copy of it, I was told that it is secret.[9] A chemical emergency plan is not among the priorities in Gujarat, a chemical state with one of the country’s highest concentration of chemical industries. This is nothing but disastrous situation of Chemical State Gujarat.

4) We had also launched a complaint against residential & commercial complexes coming up in the vicinity of hazardous solid waste sites in Ahmedabad (Vatva & Naroda) in violation of GPCB notification on industrial hazardous solid waste and The Hazardous Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 1989. These complexes were in violation of the CPCB & GPCB guideline and norms requiring a 500 meter safety distance from TSDFs & CETPs to residential complexes.

Instead of punishing the violating builders/contractors, The Forest & Environment Department and Urban Development and Urban Housing Department of Government of Gujarat decided, in the meeting dated 5-9-2011, to relax the required 500 meter safety radius to only 100 meters for the purpose of legalizing all illegal residential complexes which came after the notification. For future, it was decided that the 500 meter distance would be enforced.

The original guideline was issued with the intention of preventing risk to the health and safety of the people. The revision obviously looks at the profit margin of unscrupulous contractors, not the innocent residents who will suffer in future.

This post-facto regularization of illegal residential complexes sends a clear message that the safety norms can be bent to accommodate economic interests.   This is going to be a disastrous action on the part of the concerned authorities as far as the health and safety of the people is concerned.  It is clear that such a decision can only be due to immense pressure from the rich and powerful.

It cannot have been a suo motto decision. Instead of taking firm action and enforcing the regulations, these departments are succumbing to pressure from all sides from powerful rich people who want to legalize their illegal residential complexes.

Any post facto relaxation in the present environmental guidelines and norms is nothing but manipulation of present environmental norms to legalize illegal construction activities in order to favour powerful rich people who can pressurize the Government to act against the interests of ordinary people. We are opposed to the proposed dilution of norms, and have expressed this and written letters to you.  We would like to know your position on this issue, especially the acceptability of changing laws to accommodate violators.

(5)   As treatment facilities of Gujarat continue to be unable to meet the Gujarat Pollution Control Board‘s (GPCB) norms, a moratorium on opening new industries or expansion of existing industries was declared for the Ankleshwar area on 7-7-2007, and now the Ministry of Environment and Forests has extended till further order. Later on, on 13-1-2010 a moratorium was declared for other areas like Vatva, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Vapi, etc. The moratorium was subsequently lifted for the Vapi, Bhavnagar, and Junagadh area because of the pressure of the Gujarat Government. We objected to the lifting of moratorium for Vapi because treatment facilities of Vapi are still not able to meet the GPCB norms. Today the moratorium for Vatva, Ankleshwar is extended till further order. This has rightly stalled the projected huge investment in these areas of Gujarat. However, we believe that as responsible citizens, we are not and cannot be concerned only with the quantum of investment, but also with what is being invested, what the goal of the investment is, and how it affects the people in general. The Gujarat Government has perpetually opposed these moratoriums, despite obvious need.  Given that the industries are facing moratoriums from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for unabated cycle of pollution which continues to impact adversely all kinds of lives – human, agriculture and livestock, we are interested to know what you have to say regarding the industrial moratoriums in our state.

(6)   Why does your government fail to have land use policy? Why is an abundance of chemical industries allowed in fertile land, including the ‘vegetable basket’ of India like Padra Taluka of Vadodara District?

(7)   On 7-5-2004 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 657/1995, the Supreme Court ordered Gujarat State to provide clean drinking water to residents of villages near Vapi, Ankleshwar, and Effluent Channel Project of Vadodara, where the water supply was irrevocably damaged by industrial activities. Yet, there are ongoing actions contrary to what the Court has ordered. This order is waiting for its implementation. When will your government implement this order?

The quality of groundwater in Gujarat has reached at critical stage and yet it is being contaminated continuously. Orders for clean drinking water are passed based on the visit of the Supreme Court committee, and the committee is not able to visit all the affected villages of the Golden Corridor.  The groundwater of about 14 districts and about 74 talukas of Gujarat are critically affected by pollution. Even if we take the routine parameter like Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Total Hardness (TS), Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), and some heavy metal like Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Iron etc. Thus condition of the groundwater of Gujarat requires immediate attention as the rural population is deprived of the very basic need of safe drinking water and clean water for their animals and crops.

      Ahmedabad, Daskroi, Mehmedavad, Vadodara, Ankleshwar, Bardoli, Choryasi, Kamrej, Mangrol, Olpad, Palsana, Valod, Vyara, Navsari, Sanand, Dhoraji, Jetpur, Okha Mandal etc talukas are critically polluted. Amreli, Jambusar, Junagad, Mandvi, Kalol, Morvi, Upleta, Mahuva, Chorila, Dhangadhar, Limdi, Bansda, Umbergaon etc talukas are found moderately polluted.[10] If we talk about Vatva to Vapi – Golden Corridor it is clear that 70% of the groundwater is contaminated and it has reached the irreversible level. When you are going to act on this serious issue of contamination of ground water?

(8)   The air pollution situation is also alarming in the Golden Corridor of Gujarat. The Gujarat Pollution Control Board admits[11] in writing “5. PROBABLE POLLUTANTS: … (B) Air: HCL, SO2, NH3, H2S, NOx, PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, PAHs, PCBs, VINYL CHLORIDE. Note: Benzene, VOCs, PAHs, PCBs, vinyl chloride are not being monitored by GPCB, as no measuring facility is available with GPCB. This statement speaks for itself. In an advanced state like Gujarat, why do we not have facilities to take these basic measurements?  Moreover, when will you take actions to clean up the air quality, which has become some poor?

(9)   You are the chairman of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority and the same authority has to implement ‘The Gujarat State Disaster Management Act, 2003. The Act clearly states ‘(2) (h) “ disaster”  means an  actual or imminent  event, whether natural or otherwise  occurring in any part of the State which causes, or threatens to cause  all or any of  the following: (i)  widespread loss or damage to property, both immovable and movable; or (ii)  widespread loss of human life or injury or illness to human beings; or (iii)  damage or degradation of environment;’[12] but the web site of Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority states ‘The GSDMA has been constituted by the Government of Gujarat by the GAD’s Resolution dated 8th February 2001. The Authority has been created as a permanent arrangement to handle the natural calamities.’[13] What about environmental disasters? There is no ‘Comprehensive Chemical Emergency Plan’ with the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority. The Director, Health & Safety Department has an ‘Off Site Emergency Plan;’ but when we demanded a copy of it, we were told that it is secret. Kindly clarify your position on the crucial issue of a disaster management plan and its transparency.

(10)   A direct outcome of our persistent efforts since 1994 has been forcing GPCB / Government to act against Hema Chemicals of Vadodara which was responsible for illegal dumping of hazardous chromium waste in Gorwa area of Vadodara. As per the direction of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee the company has been ordered in year 2004 to pay Rs. 17 Crores as first instalment towards remediation of the site. Why has your government failed to remove the hazardous waste dumped by Hema Chemicals, recover the Rs 17 Crores fines from Hema Chemicals as per the direction of Supreme Court?

(11)   In Gujarat the Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) of Ankleshwar which was inaugurated by you continues to be unable to meet the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s norms.  The Project is designed to divert industrial pollution from Amla Khadi and the Narmada River.  The FETP is operated by Bharuch Eco Aqua Infrastructure Ltd, (now known as ‘Narmada Clean Tech Ltd.’). The FETP was built by the sweat of tax payers.  Out of a total project cost of Rs 131.43 Crores, the industries paid only Rs 21.75 Crores (about 17%); the rest of the tab (Rs 109 Crores) was spent by the Central Government, Gujarat Government, and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) – all of which ultimately draw from public money.  It is a familiar story: the profits are distributed privately, but the institutional costs and environmental burden are borne by another segment of the population. Why did you inaugurate the FETP pipeline project despite its non-compliance with the GPCB norms? Why do you endorse the public paying when industries pollute?

(12)   Which law allows the effluent that does not meet Gujarat Pollution Control Board norms to be discharged from Tadgam Sarigam Pipeline, from FETP, Ankleshwar, ECP, Vadodara, CETPs of Ahmedabad? We would like you to clarify your position on the issue of such an open and blunt disregard of environment laws.

(13)   The Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 is violated across the state. Why Gujarat Pollution Control Board has failed to implement this law?

(14)   As per the data provided by ‘The Director Industrial Safety and Health, Government of Gujarat’, 30.33 % of industries are closed in Gujarat as per Government of Gujarat’s own figures dated 1 January 2011. Why figures are not available up to 1 January 2013 on the website? Government of Gujarat is silent about the workers who must have lost their employment because of closure of these industries.

Office wise Factories – Gujarat State – AS on 01/01/2011

 

SR. NO

OFFICE

WORKING FACTORIES

CLOSED FACTORIES

TOTAL FACTORIES

1

Ahmedabad

6344

2998

9342

2

Gandhinagar

696

234

930

3

Mehsana

1859

754

2613

4

Nadiad

393

273

666

5

Anand

582

431

1013

6

Baroda

2747

989

3736

7

Godhra

397

372

769

8

Bharuch

1608

328

1936

9

Navsari

412

303

715

10

Valsad

2465

755

3220

11

Surendranagar

429

430

859

12

Bhavnagar

237

373

610

13

Alang

113

80

193

14

Rajkot

2533

752

3285

15

Jamnagar

371

450

821

16

Junagadh

611

110

721

17

Adipur

429

128

557

18

Surat

2980

1213

4193

Total

25206

10973

36179

 

Source: Director Industrial Safety and Health, Government of Gujarat website http://labourandemployment.gov.in/dish/statistics/Factories/office_wise.htm

 

(15) Let us also looks at the Human Development Index of Gujarat State as Government of Gujarat is making very toll claims. Gujarat is no. 11 (two-digit figure) in Human Development Index. Why?

 

List of Indian states and territories by Human Development Index, 2011

Rank

State/Union Territory

HDI (2011)

High human development

 
1 Kerala 0.790
2 Delhi 0.750
3 Himachal Pradesh 0.652
4 Goa 0.617
5 Punjab 0.605
6 North eastern India (excluding Assam) 0.573
7 Maharashtra 0.572
8 Tamil Nadu 0.570
9 Haryana 0.552
10 Jammu and Kashmir 0.529
11 Gujarat 0.527
12 Karnataka 0.519
13 West Bengal 0.492
14 Uttarakhand 0.490
15 Andhra Pradesh 0.473
  India (national average) 0.467
16 Assam 0.444
17 Rajasthan 0.434
18 Uttar Pradesh 0.380
19 Jharkhand 0.376
20 Madhya Pradesh 0.375
21 Bihar 0.367
22 Odisha 0.362
23 Chattisgarh 0.358

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_states_and_territories_by_Human_Development_Index

There is little to debate regarding the factual basis underlying our concerns.  We have also made our perspective clear: the environment and the well-being of people in general should be treated with more respect than industrial/profit-making interests.  By writing this letter, we are soliciting your stance on these issues in writing. In the interest of democracy and transparency, we feel we are entitled to a response from you.

 

Rohit Prajapati                                     Trupti Shah

[Rohit Prajapati]                                  [Trupti Shah]


[1] Gobbling farm land for industry a fair game: Minister, Indian Express, 12th January 2011.

[2] Gobbling farm land for industry a fair game: Minister, Indian Express, 12th January 2011.

[5] Reply by GSDMA to Rohit Prajapati dated 10-8-2007

[6] Reply by GSDMA to Rohit Prajapati dated 23-8-2007

[9] Reply by Director, Health & Safety Department, Vadodara, to Rohit Prajapati, dated 9-9-2010

 

[10] State Environmental Action Programme – Industrial Pollution Phase III – Sectoral Report, Volume – I, Gujarat Ecology Commission, April 2002

[11] Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Abatement Action Plan – Vapi Industrial Cluster – Gujarat, GPCB, Gandhinagar 2010

_________________________________
Rohit Prajapati / Trupti Shah
37, Patrakar Colony, Tandalja Road,
Post-Akota, Vadodara – 390 020
GUJARAT, INDIA
Phone No. (O) + 91 – 265 – 2320399
Email No: rohit.prajapati@gmail.com
_______________________________________________________________

Mithivirdi project: Charges fly, MoEF seeks NPCIL reply


Indian Express, 21 April 2013

Ahmedabad In a fresh twist in the row over the proposed 6000-MW Mithivirdi nuclear power project, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has sought a reply from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) following allegations that the project’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report was prepared by a non-accredited consultant and norms for environmental public hearings were flouted.

Dr P B Rastogi, scientific director in charge of nuclear power at the MoEF, has asked the NPCIL to respond to these allegations so the ministry could take “further action”.

The project, to be located near Alang Ship-Breaking Yard in Bhavnagar district, is slated to be India’s first nuclear power plant to be built with American technology, a direct result of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

It has, however, been dogged by protests by locals and environment groups. In fact, a large number of people had walked out of the environmental public hearing held for the project last month.

Rastogi’s communication to NPCIL mentioned that Vadodara-based Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti and others had made representations concerning various issues.

Earlier, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board had asked NPCIL to clarify if the consultant, Engineers India Limited (EIL), it had hired for the project’s Environment Impact Assessment was accredited as demanded by law.

Interestingly, no consultant has been accredited to assess nuclear plants in India.

Later, others alleged discrepancies in the EIA report itself, including the absence of a rehabilitation policy, necessary clearances for diversion of forest land and radiological impact studies, all of which were required as per terms of reference issued by the MoEF.

Subsequent to the public hearing, people had also sent complaints saying procedures were not followed.

 

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)

 

Have sought accreditation to assess Nuclear Power projects: EIL to GPCB


Nuclear Power Corporation of India

 

 

 

Adam Halliday: Ahmedabad, Indian Express, 23 February 2013

The consultants for the proposed Mithi Virdi nuclear power project have told the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) that they have applied to be registered as qualified assessors for nuclear power projects, said GPCB officials.

Officials said the public hearing for the project will therefore be held as scheduled on March 5, even as environmentalists have petitioned Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan to cancel the hearing because of the issue. They said they have not received any response from the ministry. “The public hearing will be held as scheduled on March 5,” said Bhavnagar District Collector V P Patel.

The GPCB had last week asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to clarify why it had hired an unqualified consultant to assess its proposed 6000 MW project. The NPCIL had referred the matter to the Engineers India Limited (EIL), the consultants, to respond directly.

At the end of the draft environment impact assessment report for the project, EIL, a public-sector undertaking, has attached a copy of its QCI-NABET certification in which it shows it has been given conditional accreditation to assess category B thermal power plants.

Category B Thermal Power Plants are those with a capacity of 500 MW or less, which can be cleared by state authorities. Category A power plants, on the other hand, refers to plants of higher capacities, and need clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). All nuclear power plants fall in category A.

No consultant in the country has been accredited to assess nuclear power plants, although the NPCIL already runs six such units with a total capacity of 4,780 MW generated from 20 reactors.

The proposed plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district will be the first such project built using American nuclear technology.

 

 

 

#Gujarat -Sexual harassment panels still far off #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 January 2013

VADODARA: In one of the discussions following the brutal Delhi gang rape, a sad truth has emerged – nearly 16 years after the Supreme Court (SC) issued guidelines for setting up a complaint addressing mechanism for cases of sexual harassment, 99% of government offices in Vadodara have yet to establish these committees.

The disappointing fact came out during a meeting of women NGOs with members of the district coordination committee, including district MLAs, which meets every third Saturday.

Among the representatives of nearly 50 district administration offices, only one member – a woman employee of the local office of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) said the Board’s headquarters had a committee. However, its constitution was also not found to be in accordance with Vishaka committee guidelines, which were issued following SC directions, sources revealed.

Disturbed by the development, district collector Vinod Rao has now given a 10-day deadline to all the departments to constitute committees to address complaints of sexual harassment in each department.

Members of women NGO, Sahiyar, who were invited by the district collector to address the representatives regarding the committee, then distributed guidelines about their composition.

“It’s imperative to have a woman as chairman of these committees and a member from an outside organization is also to be included. Fifty per cent of the members of these committees have to be women,” Trupti Shah told the government officials.

The offices should also prominently display the existence of such a committee on their notice boards along with details about the members.

“It’s mandatory to set up such committees in every office, whether government or private, and if the government does not take the lead, then who else will,” a woman NGO member pointed out.

NGO member said they were planning to approach the SC with a contempt petition if the complaint mechanism was to be ignored once again.

“We had filed an RTI applications after the Patan rape case and pointed out that none of the government offices in Gujarat had constituted these committees. The officials promised, but apparently nothing came out of this, as was evident from the interaction today. We hope that the recent awareness about sexual harassment of women would do the trick this time,” said Trupti.

In the wake of Vishaka committee guidelines, it was pointed out that present civil and penal laws in India did not adequately provide for specific protection of women from sexual harassment in work places.

It was then made necessary for the employers in work places as well as other responsible persons or institutions to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women by setting up these committees.

 

You are living in Toxic Gujarat



Ahmedabad, TNN, : Denting the “green image” of Gujarat, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its 2011-12’ civil report, has claimed that there is an “upward trend” in the incidence of water-borne diseases due to contaminated water in rivers, lakes and groundwater.

It cites South Gujarat as the worst cases, where industrial clusters like Vapi and Ankleshwar and Nandesari near Vadodara have been blamed for blatantly violating the state’s pollution control norms and discharging un-treated waste to nearby water bodies.

About 32% of the state’s drinking water sources were found to be “contaminated” during pre-monsoon survey but affected villagers were not alerted, claims CAG.
Thought there were “alternate sources of safe drinking water” in 4,215 villages, the top state-owned body, Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO) remained indifferent and did not alert the affected population.

The report has outrightly blamed a lacka-daisical attitude of the state government, including agencies like Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) of ignoring effects of pollution on human health in its policies.

The CAG report says, “Risks to human health from waterborne and water  related diseases due to pollution of rivers and from presence of arsenic, zinc, iron, mercury, copper, chromium, cadmium, lead, and persistent organic pollutants in river, lake and groundwater have not been assessed by the government.”

The CAG clamis the number of cases of acute diarrheal disease went up from 5.87 lakhs in 2006 to 6.73 lakhs in 2010, viral hepatitis went up from 10,061 to 16,234, enteric fever went up from 12,850 to 38,775; and cholera went up from 50 to 573.

CAG said, though rapid response teams were made available to fight these diseases, “Water pollution continued to pose a perennial challenge to the public health system in the State”.

Refereeing to Gorva lake in Vadodara CAG said hutment residence and slaughter houses adjourning the lake were discharging domestic waste, untreated water and sewerage and slaughter house waste into the lake.

“The Water Quality Review Committee (WQRC) was set up (in 2002) to function as the nodal agency for compilation of report, and convene meetings of implementing or testing agencies but WQRC convened only 6 meetings in eight years and did not meet even once in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010” CAG noted.

Times View: Chief Minister Narendra Modi has authored a 236 – page book ‘Convenient Action: Gujarat’s Response To Challenges Of Climate Change’. Yet, CAG’s report from the ground paints a frightening picture of the environment damage that rapidly developing Gujarat has skirted for many decades. We thank the CAG for rightly focusing on the toxic hot spot which has no khushboo. Only stench blowing through our nostrils and chemicals flushing down our throats.

HARDTALK:

  • Inlet effluent characteristic of CETPs of Ankleshwar, Vapi and Veraval were in excess to prescribed limits. This indicated that individual members were not carrying out effective primary treatment
  • Government has not identified aquatic species, flora and fauna which are affected by water pollution
  • Quantification of human activities around water bodies not been carried out
  • Poor quality of planning as no information was available with the state government
  • No action taken by the government to check deteriorating quality of ground water
  • No continuous monitoring of ground-water.

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