July 2014

Adani gets green light for Mundra expansion


NEW DELHI Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:15pm IST

(Reuters) - The new government has given Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSE.NS) the green light to develop an 8,481 hectare coastal plot of land in western India, clearing the way for the group to build a huge desalination plant, Adani said on Wednesday.

The clearance process had stalled under India's previous government, which lost power to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, and Adani has waited several years to get the go-ahead.

Adani, part of billionaire Gautam Adani's conglomerate, said in a statement the environment ministry had granted environment and coastal regulation zone clearance for its Mundra Special Economic Zone, a huge industrial hub where it also plans to build an effluent treatment plant.

Since investing billions of dollars into an area with large swathes of marshy wasteland, Adani has transformed Mundra into an industrial zone hosting India's largest commercial port and the country's largest privately-owned power plant.

The rapid growth of Mundra, a once-remote coastal town on the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, has prompted some opponents to say the local government, then headed by Modi, favoured Adani with cheap land. Adani denies he has been granted any undue favours.

Adani's rapid ascent to the top tier of Indian business is often associated with the rise of Modi. Shares in listed Adani Enterprises (ADEL.NS) have surged almost 70 percent this year, largely in the run-up to Modi's election victory in May.

Adani Ports' stock closed up 6.82 percent on Wednesday, outpacing a 1.27 percent rise in the benchmark .BSESN.

Long pushed by India as a way to encourage foreign direct investment and grow exports, special economic zones are exempt from certain labour laws, as well import and excise duties.

CRZ violations in Edakochi and Chilavannoor listed

The Edakochi-Palluruthy sector in the city has witnessed maximum number of reclamations in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) of Kochi.

The Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) of Kochi Corporation, prepared by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, has listed as many as 66 reclamations in the Palluruthy village.

Reclamations have taken place in the inter-tidal zone, which includes mudflats on the banks of backwaters or river and mangroves of the CRZ.

The complete list, which can be accessed at, have detailed all the reclamations that have taken place in the area since 2002.

Around 40 reclamations have also been identified in the Elamkulam-Chilavannoor sector where some mega constructions, including residential complexes have come up.

The reported CRZ violation by DLF group in Chilavannoor had kicked up a political storm in the State. The State government has also announced a three-member committee to look into the instance of violation of the builder group.

Reclamations have also been reported on the banks of Vembanad Lake. The water flow in many canals that run through the city has been blocked due to reclamations restricting tidal flow. Bunds and sluices have regulated the flow of tidal waters in many canals and rivers, pointed out the report.

The report was drawn up by an eight-member team led by K.V. Thomas, principal investigator, and M. Samsuddin, co-principal investigator.

KCZMA failure
None of the nine coastal districts of the State, except, Kottayam, have initiated any action to physically verify the violations.

The local bodies were earlier provided with the list of violations for ground truthing.

Cheyyur plant may endanger waterbodies: study

A new study by Community Environmental Monitoring has shed light on the hydrological implications of the proposed 4000-MW Cheyyur thermal power project.

“Site selection for the plant has ignored its impact on the surface water resources such as tanks and ponds, and the interconnected network of streams,” said S. Janakarajan, one of the authors of the study, currently Professorial Associate at the Centre for Water and Development, SOAS, University of London, and president, South Asia Consortium for Inter-disciplinary Water Studies (SaciWATERs), Hyderabad.

The project proponents have failed to study the impact of the key components such as a four-km road to the East Coast Road, a coal conveyor belt, a coal conveyor corridor, a stormwater drain and a 25-km rail line, on local drainage and flooding, the study finds.

“It is only near the coast that you will find all three types of water — salty, brackish and freshwater. The proposed project has dumping sites for toxic fly ash, which will ruin these waterbodies next to the sea,” Mr. Janakarajan pointed out.

Environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who contributed to the study, said information obtained under the Right to Information from the Revenue Department showed that the plant and ash pond sites enclose more than 150 acres of waterbodies. “If these are polluted, the local population, which depends on them for livelihood and drinking water needs, will be severely affected,” he said.

Shripad Dharmadhikary of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, who had been on a 10-day tour of coastal power plants across the State, has concluded that it is not advisable to establish them from the point of view of long-term water security for the rapidly urbanising population in the State.

Setting up of prawn hatcheries near Rushikulya rookery worries activists

Wildlife and environmental activists are worried over the setting up of prawn hatcheries near Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam district of Odisha, a major nesting site of endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

According to Ravindranath Sahu of Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (RSTPC), construction work of one such hatchery is nearing completion near Kantiagada village. According to locals, some more private companies have proposed establishment of prawn hatcheries on this coast near the rookery. Most of them are proposed within 500 metres of the coast.

In 1998, a similar attempt had been made for establishment of a prawn hatchery near Gokharkuda village. However, due to opposition from wildlife and environmental activists, the hatchery had been closed. Scientist of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Bivash Pandav, who had played a major role in conservation of this Olive Ridley nesting site said it is an irony that prawn hatcheries are again being allowed to be established in this most preferred nesting area of Olive Ridley turtles of the eastern coast. Coordinator of Operation Kachhap, an organisation involved in protection of Olive Ridley turtles, Biswajit Mohanty said their organisation has decided to make a detailed on-the-spot examination of the hatcheries that are coming up in the area.

Mr. Pandav said since over two decades, Rushikulya rookery coast continues to attract endangered Olive Ridley turtles to nest, yet the State government has not yet come up with a proper coastal zone management plan for this coastline due to which such hatcheries are coming up in the area.

Scientists seek relocation of Cheyyur plant


Thirty-nine scientists have written to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, seeking that the proposed 4,000-MW thermal power project be relocated from Cheyyur in Kancheepuram district, citing serious threats to the environment.

They have also demanded that the Cheyyur lagoon, and its catchments and drainage, be declared areas of conservation importance and given legal protection.

The former vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, M. Bhargava, and scientists from prestigious organisations such as IITs’ and several Central universities are among the signatories.

The Centre-State power project, proposed by the Power Finance Corporation, has faced a strong protest from local communities, who say it will destroy their livelihood. Environmental activists have alleged serious violations and suppression of facts. But officials have denied these charges.

In their letter, the scientists have cited two reports prepared by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Madras Naturalists Society (MNS). The reports have documented the presence of threatened plant species and fast-disappearing forest types such as the tropical dry evergreen forests in the areas earmarked for the project. The BNHS report says the lagoon is a habitat for 77 species of waterfowl, including eight of the 42 bird species listed as endangered.

“Locating a coal-fired power plant in this area will not only harm the remarkable biodiversity but will also compromise Cheyyur’s potential to serve as a supplier of freshwater for drinking and irrigation needs in future,” the scientists have said.

MCZMA approves proposal to pull real estate project out of CRZ zone

by FP Staff  Jul 4, 2014 11:36 IST

In a decision that raises several doubts over whether ecological concerns were set aside, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has approved a real estate developer's proposal to pull a lucrative plot of land in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, out of the restrictive Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The builder sent his proposal after the MCZMA earlier this year redefined the coast along Mahim as a "bay", something aTimes of India news report calls an "intriguing redefinition" that has now brought windfall gains to developer firm Hubtown.