Business Standard – Adani’s ship recycling project faces legal trouble

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11 July 2014 - Adani Group’s maiden venture into ship recycling business seems to have got into legal trouble as a public interest litigation (PIL) in Gujarat High Court has alleged that its group company had violated environmental norms and presented false information to get coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance from union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).

The proposed project being developed by the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) Ltd involves development of recycling facility adjacent to existing West Port, in Mundra near Vandh village of Mundra block in Kutch district. The project area covers 40.7432 hectares reclaimed land created by dumping dredge spoils.

Under the project the company aims at recycling approximately 40 ships annually of average Light Displacement Tonnage (LDT) 7,582 tonnes. It is estimated that nearly 0.25 million tonne (Mt) per year of scrap metal will be recovered along with 11,000 tonnes per year machinery and 10,000 tonnes per year of miscellaneous items.

In the PIL, petitioner Pravinsingh Chauhan of Siracha village of Mundra taluka has alleged that APSEZ officials had ‘fraudulently’ depicted in the maps of proposed site of ship recycling facility that there were no sand dunes and claimed that the land that will be created will be result of reclamation activities by dumping dredge spoils. These maps are part of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by the company and submitted to the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the MoEF that recommends CRZ clearances for projects, he added.

Another allegation leveled by the petitioner is that APSEZ workers had begun work to flatten the sand dunes on the sea shore even before it got the statutory environment and CRZ clearances from the EAC of the MoEF, which he claimed was violation of environmental norms. He submitted some photographs of heavy vehicles hired by APSEZ in action near the sand dunes. Along with the petition, Chauhan has also submitted satellite images of sand dunes taken in 2005 and recently.

In the PIL filed through lawyer N L Jain, Chauhan has sought directions for APSEZ to immediately stop all its activities on the sand dunes which is classified under CRZ-1 zone as it acts as a natural barrier against Tsunami, cyclone and high tides.

Acting on the PIL the bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala issued notices to APSEZ, state government and union government and asked them to file replies by July 24, the date of next hearing. The court also directed the Kutch district authorities to visit the site under question and file a detailed status report with photographic evidences before the next hearing.

When contacted the APSEZ spokespersons said that they have not yet received the notice from the court.