MoEF forms panel to inspect Adani Port and SEZ at Mundra

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has constituted a committee headed by environmentalist Sunita Narain to inspect the Adani Port and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) at Mundra in Kutch district.

Referring to three main instances, the ministry says it decided to form the committee because "of the severity of the issues involved in the matter."

The instances include complaints filed separately by local groups Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) and the Kheti Vikas Sewa Trust (KVST). The latter had taken the APSEZ to court last year over alleged violation of environment clearance and in which the ministry was also a respondent.

The other instance is the findings of the ministry's own site inspections in December 2010, which was in response to MASS's earlier complaints.

An Adani spokesperson did not reply when asked about the development and its reaction.

Meanwhile, Sunita Narain said over phone from New Delhi that she would call the four other committee members to the capital for a briefing by the ministry on September 26 and subsequently call the parties involved to represent their views. "The site visit will likely take place in early or mid-October," she said.

The other committee members are Chennai-based Anthony Gnanamuthu, Prof. Ramchandran Ramesh from Chennai's Anna University, A Mehrotra, director of the MoEF's regional office at Bhopal, and Lalit Kapur, a director at the ministry's office.

The ministry has asked the committee to look into issues regarding the alleged distortion of the High Tide Line by bunding, diverting or blocking creeks, "whether construction of Mundra port, roads, railway was taken up prior to grant of forest/environmental clearance", "the destruction of mangroves and levelling of sand dunes", compliance issues regarding the company's power plant, if and how agriculture would be impacted due to salinity ingress "due to creation of huge water body of sea water for Adani Power Plant" and "issues related to handling of fly ash", among others.

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