Pipavav Port’s expansion and modernization programme has hit the green hurdle as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently passed an order keeping in abeyance for a period of six months the Environmental Clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in June last year. The order by the NGT came in response to an appeal filed by the Amreli-based Gau Raxa Hitraxak Manch and Gauchar Paryavaran Bachav Trust, which is engaged in environmental and social work, challenging the grant of the EC Pipavav Port’s planned project.
Pipavav Port’s expansion and modernization project, for which the MoEF had granted the EC, encompasses planned addition of berths, utilization of more area and installation of equipment with enhanced capacity for cargo handling. It proposes to extend quay length of berth by 2,450 meters, nearly three times the current length, with a view to handle 26 million tonnes of bulk and approximately eight times the TEU containers currently handled.
The Gau Raxa Hitraxak Manch and Gauchar Paryavaran Bachav Trust in its appeal said that the Pipavav Port’s expansion and modernization was much in excess and would adversely affect the mangrove forest, migratory bird habitats and various species of wild fauna. A mangrove forest exists alongside the coastal wall of the port. It alleged that Pipavav Port had encroached on village grazing land which would adversely impact livestock and livelihood of villagers. The expansion project, the Trust claimed, would affect ground water availability and increase salinity of the land in the villages around the port. The appeal also raised concerns with regard to disproportionate increase in generation of coal dust due to movement of carriage vehicles and impact on health of villagers residing in surrounding areas. The reply affidavit filed by the Pipavav Port had denied the allegations made in the appeal.
The judgment passed by the NGT on August 22nd, 2013 directs the MoEF and EAC to appraise the Pipavav Port’s project afresh on the basis of available material and in comparison with expansion of other ports in the country and then issue necessary order, either for approval or rejection, based on merits.