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MoEF panel recommends rs200cr fine on Adani Group

                                                                                     Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 19th April, 2013

An environment ministry committee has recommended a fine of Rs. 200 crore on Gujarat based Adani group for damaging local mangroves and creeks while developing its Mundra port project and asked the ministry to cancel the environment clearance to the northern part of the project.

In a report submitted to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, committee head and director general of Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narian said the committee 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.

"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 another," she said.

The report provides evidence of destruction of mangroves, blocking of creeks and non-compliance of other clearance conditions. It has asked the ministry to create Environment Restoration Fund of Rs. 200 or one percent of the total investment, whichever is higher and claim the fund from the project proponent Adani group.

The Adani Waterfront and Power Plant project has been in the eye of the storm for its adverse ecological impacts and the ministry had set up a five-member committee under Narain to look into the complaints.

The committee used remote sensing technology to assess environmental damage that had occurred over the past decade. It found widespread destruction of mangroves in 75 hectares in Bocha Island, which was declared a conservation zone under the environment clearance conditions.

The company has not taken precautions to guard against blocking of creeks because of construction activities, the report said, adding that satellite imagery shows signs of deterioration and loss of creeks near the proposed North Port.

The committee also accused Adani group for failing to take stipulated measures to prevent salinity of underground because of seawater used in the thermal power plant. The company was also found wanting with regard to inventory for fly ash utilisation and its disposal.

Narain also said that 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," says Narain.