New Delhi: There is
"incontrovertible" evidence that the Adani project at Gujarat's
Mundra has violated and not complied with environmental clearance
conditions, said a government panel Thursday and called for
imposing fine of Rs.200 crore for the environmental damage.
Based on complaints received, the union environment ministry had
set up a committee to examine allegations of environmental
destruction and non-compliance.
The five-member committee, headed by environmentalist Sunita
Narain, included officials from the environment ministry and
experts on coastal ecosystems and disaster management.
The committee, which submitted its report Thursday, used remote
sensing technology to assess environmental damage that had
occurred over the past decade.
It also called for cancelling environmental clearance of the North
Port, contending it will lead to an increase in the mangrove
conservation area and ensure ecological balance in this coastal
It further said that the ministry should create an Environment
Restoration Fund, which should be one percent of the project cost
(including the cost of the thermal power plant) or Rs.200 crore,
whichever is higher. This fund should be used for remediation of
environmental damage in Mundra and for strengthening the
regulatory and monitoring systems.
"The committee in its investigations has found that there have
been instances to circumvent statutory procedures by using
different agencies, at the centre and state, for obtaining
clearances for the same project," said Narain.
She said the public hearing procedure, which is a critical part of
project clearance and helps to understand and mitigate the
concerns of local people, has also been bypassed on one pretext or
The fisher community, which depends on the coasts for their
livelihood, is the worst hit by these changes.
"The development on the coast, on their land has clearly left
little space for them," said Narain.
The committee found widespread destruction of mangroves and about
75 hectares of mangroves have been lost in Bocha Island, which was
declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance
It highlighted that the company has not taken stipulated measures
to ensure that the channels that bring large volumes of seawater
for use in the thermal power plant and then discharge as well as
the storage tank is lined so that there is no chance of salinity
contamination in groundwater.
The committee notes that post-clearance monitoring is the weakest
area, and needs urgent strengthening.
"If monitoring was rigorous, public and credible, there would have
been no need for this committee. We have recommended that there is
a need to create a monitoring system to ensure that corrective
action suggested by this report is taken within a time-bound
manner," Narain added.