live mint – Polluting firms barred in Gulf of  Kutch area

(Written by Neha Sethi)

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9 septembre 2013 - Industries such as ship breaking and building units, shipping yards, etc. will not be allowed to discharge effluents

New Delhi: The environment ministry has notified a 326.26 sq. km. area surrounding the Marine National Park and Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat as an eco-sensitive zone, blocking any industrial or commercial activity that could threaten the existence of marine life and other species.

The notification prohibits setting up and expansion of polluting industries in an area covering about 36 villages in Jodiya, Khambaliya, Kalyanpur and Dwarka districts.
“The existing industries such as salt manufacturing units, ship breaking and building units, shipping yards, etc. shall not be allowed to discharge effluents, slurry, etc. into the ESZ (eco-sensitive zone) and shall take adequate measures to prevent any leakage of brine water or harmful chemicals into the water,” according to the 22 August notification which was made public on Monday.
The sanctuary is rich in marine life, with more than 70 species of sponges; 37 species of hard corals and 24 species of soft corals; 150-200 species of fishes; 27 species of prawns; 30 species of crabs, 200 species of molluscs, a species of sea turtles, three species of sea snakes; three species of sea mammals; 94 species of aquatic birds; and 78 species of terrestrial birds, the notification said.
Quarrying and mining will be banned in the eco-sensitive zone and no fresh mining leases will be granted. The notification also bars mechanized fishing, including fishing by trawlers. The movement of vehicles will also be regulated.
Saw mills, major hydroelectric projects and industries that produce hazardous substances will also be prohibited.
Setting up hotels and resorts, cutting trees, putting up electrical cables, widening roads and using polythene are among activities that will be regulated.
The government has taken a major step as the environment and ecology need to be considered before setting up industries, said Naran Gadhavi, a local environmentalist.
“The Mundra area should also be declared an ESZ as that is also a very sensitive area,” he said in a phone interview.
Thirty-one rivers which flow into the Gulf of Kutch have been included in the eco-sensitive zone, according to the notification.
The Gujarat government shall prepare a zonal master plan in consultation with the local people within a period of two years which will then be approved by the environment ministry, it said.
“The zonal master plan shall regulate the development in the ESZ so as to meet the requirement of local people without affecting the rights and privileges of the bona fide residents and also ensure eco-friendly development for their livelihood security.”
A nine-member committee headed by the chief secretary of Gujarat has been charged with implementing the provisions of the notification.