Centre-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) said it is “committed to preserving, protecting and promoting the environment” in and around Vadhavan port while implementing as well as operating the mega project it is helming near Dahanu in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, in the wake of growing protests from locals.
“All environment laws, rules and regulations will be fully complied with and JNPT will take all precautionary and mitigative measures for environmentally sustainable port development and port services which are in the larger interest of the nation and in particular to Maharashtra,” a spokesperson for JNPT said on Saturday.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has “recognised that services rendered by the port are not classified as ‘RED’ category and declared that a port under no circumstances is an industry”. A port provides services to the EXIM trade and hence do not contribute to pollution in and around Vadhavan, it said.
The MoEF & CC has told the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority that port is not an industry. Therefore, approval and appraisal of the new port under environmental and coastal regulation zone clearance will be done by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) in the ministry.
MoEF & CC’s direction came on a petition filed by the Vadhavan Virodhi Manch seeking to retain the status of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority.
To soften the resistance from local groups, JNPT said it is building the new port through a joint venture with Maharashtra Maritime Board with equity share of 74% and 26% respectively. This is in line with a June 2015 memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between JNPT and MMB to develop Vadhavan port.
On February 5, the Union Cabinet accorded ‘in-principle’ approval for the new port to be built by a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed under the Companies Act in which state-owned JNPT – India’s biggest container gateway – will hold equity stake equal to or more than 50 per cent.
The new port is estimated to cost Rs 65,544.54 crores. The SPV will invest Rs 16,140 crores to construct basic infrastructure such as breakwater, rail line/yard and road connectivity, power and water line, internal roads and common amenities.
“There is lot of opposition from people in Vadhavan. More than the farmers, it is the fishermen who are resisting the project. It is not possible to ride rough shod over them. We have to work out a package which is acceptable to them,” a Maharashtra government official briefed on the development said.
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study
JNPT said the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute is conducting a study on the area of fishing, loss to fishermen, compensation and assessment on alternative means of employment for fishermen and rehabilitation due to loss of fishing activities.
Based on the terms of reference approved by the EAC for conducting the environment impact assessment (EIA) study, JNPT has mandated Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS) to study the impact of flooding in the creeks and dredging.
The National Institute of Oceanography is studying the effect of dredging on the marine ecology and bio-diversity impact assessment by setting up an environmental management plan.
The studies also include undersea noise on the crustaceans and concentration of carbon in seawater.
IIT-Bombay is assessing the impact of development due to increase in inhabitants and resolution method for congestion free roads and improvement in artery road to the port.