Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nirma Cement plant not viable ecologically, says panel

Nirma Cement plant not viable ecologically, says panel

The Expert Committee (EC) constituted by the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has held that the Nirma Cement plant at Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district is not viable for ecological balance.

The report also challenged Nirma's claim that it has already invested Rs430 crore in the construction of the plant.

According to report, the company has spent around Rs100 crore so far.

In its report, the EC stated that the location of Nirma Cement Plant, captive coal based power plant and coke over plant on 268 hectare of land allotted by the government of Gujarat at Padhiaraka village of Mahuva taluka is part of the Samadhiala Bandhara water body and its periphery.

It further said that this was a coastal saline natural ecosystem that was converted into fresh water ecosystem by construction of the Bandharo to prevent salinity, ingression in the surrounding fertile crop fields.

It is also used to store water for irrigation during dry period and to help recharge ground water.

The report stated that the location of heavy polluting units will generate emissions that will affect crop yields.

This was because the emissions are bound to interfere in the photosynthesis and transpiration and can also bring changes in the ecology of water body.

The report further said that the accidental release of effluents may contribute to the degradation of environment and may even kill the fish in the water body. It may also severely damage the aquatic flora and fauna.

Commenting on the lime stone mining in the vicinity of the cement plant, the report said it will result in reduction in catchment area and possible salinity ingression and make the entire area which is agriculturally important, particularly for onion production (Mahuva alone constitute 6% of the country's production) environmentally and ecologically degraded.

The report also talked about the Asiatic Lion sanctuary. Mahuva taluka also harbours Asiatic Lions and four of them were spotted in and around Bandhara water body, the report said.

"In fact, there is a reserve forest within 10 km radius of the site. Two critically endangered vulture species white backed vulture and longbilled vulture and many other birds are seen around the Bandhara."

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