13 May 2012 - AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has stayed ship-breaking activity at the Sachana in Jamnagar district over the state forest department’s objection that the yards do not have environment clearance.
Justice S R Brahmbhatt ordered after the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) failed to satisfactorily reply to certain queries posed by the forest department regarding the location of the yard. The foresters have been maintaining that the ship-breaking activities are taking place not only on forest land, but the newly added three yards fall in the Marine National Park.
The ship-breaking business at Sachana port has been going on since 1977. Till 1984, there were only six yards, but thereafter it became15. Recently, it has increased to 18. Addition of these three yards alarmed the forest authorities and they ordered all ship breakers to stop the activity with immediate effect in absence of environment clearance.
As the issue reached to the high court, the GMB supported ship breakers and disputed forest department’s claims about the limit of the marine park. It also argued that the notification declaring the port limit and ship-breaking yards was issued prior to the declaration of forest area. It also contended that the forest department’s claims were not even substantiated by any map, but activities in the three new plots were stopped after the forest department’s directives.
However, during the proceeding, Justice Brahmbhatt inquired as to why ship-breaking activity was not stopped in all plots. The HC pulled up the GMB officials and took undertaking from the ship breakers that they would stay all work till further orders.
Following the dispute between two departments of state government, the HC has also issued notice to the chief secretary to look into the matter, and kept further hearing on the issue on June 18.