Pollution norms: Navlakhi port operations suspended

The operations at Navlakhi port in Morbi district of Saurashtra were suspended on Thursday, a day before National Green Tribunal (NGT) was scheduled to hear a complaint regarding alleged violation of pollution norms. "Though the complaint relates to handling of coal, we have suspended loading and unloading of other cargo also as a precautionary measure," a port officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Following the suspension of activities, loading of salt in Indian-flagged Sagar Shakti vessel was halted. Sources said that loading of the vessel had started two days ago and around 12 metric tonnes of salt had already been loaded. The vessel was scheduled to carry around 54 metric tonnes of salt. Loading of salt on another vessel, Venalise Traders, which had dropped anchor in the port a day earlier, could not be started due to the suspension of activities.

Officers said that the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), which operates and maintains the port, had taken the step as Pune-based western zone bench of the NGT was scheduled to hear an application filed by Rajendrasinh Kshtriya, a resident of Rajula town in Amreli. Kshtriya had filed his complaint on November 20 and made the GMB and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (BPCB) respondents. In his complaint, Kshtriya had alleged damage to agricultural activities due to handling of coal at Navlakhi port, sources said. NGT is a quasi-judicial body set up to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. Navlakhi is an important gateway of salt exports as it is located near Surendrangar, Morbi and Jamnagar, the major salt-producing districts of the country.

Incidentally, Navlakhi port had remained closed for many days early this year on the orders of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCG) for alleged air pollution caused by handling of coal. The environment watchdog of the state government had said that the dust emanating from coal was also damaging agricultural crops in the vicinity of the port. However, the issue was settled later after port authorities agreed to change their coal-handling methods.

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