Vadhavan Port: Center Order will replace dissenting members of Dahanu’s Authority

The Union Department of Environment amended the Dahanu Notification (1991) to replace three long-standing members of the Supreme Court-appointed Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA). At a recent agency hearing on February 13, the three members had raised concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the proposed Vadhavan megaport in Dahanu Taluka, Palghar.

Members being replaced include Shyam Asolekar (Professor of Environmental Sciences at IIT-B), Vidyadhar Deshpande (Former Urban Planner, Maharashtra) and Kulbushan Jain (Professor Emeritus, CEPT University, Ahmedabad), who have been members of the Authority for over two years are decades.

They were respectively replaced by the current Environmental Engineering Department Chief, IIT-B, and the current Deputy Secretary, Department of Urban Development, Maharashtra. Jain’s position will now be filled by the Dean or Head of Department of the Faculty of Architecture at CEPT University.

Asolekar and Deshpande declined to comment when contacted by HT while Jain could not be reached despite efforts.

“This change is well within the confines of India’s Department of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), but the timing is obviously suspect,” said Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee, Conservation Action Trust and a guest of DTEPA. At DTEPA’s most recent hearing, Asolekar had skinned the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority’s (JNPA) Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA) for Vadhavan Port, saying: “This document has no data anywhere. No monitored data is provided with data from the samples collected. Whatever draft EIA report is presented to us is frankly superficial.”

Asolekar also questioned the rigor of a key report — the National Center for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) — that formed the basis for a May 26, 2022 MoEFCC guideline that paved the way for port and port construction in China the Environmentally Sensitive Zone of Dahanu (ESZ). Asolekar had criticized the report for being based solely on secondary data with no field observations. Jain, meanwhile, had raised concerns about the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the land development that will result from the port, such as the movement of 30-40,000 trucks a day in the region.

The SC established the DTEPA in 1996 to protect India’s first notified Environmentally Sensitive Zone (ESZ) in Dahanu. More than a year after the death of its chair — retired Supreme Court Justice CS Dharmadhikari in early 2019 — the MoEFCC moved the Supreme Court in 2020 to abolish DTEPA and set up a Supervisory Committee to carry out DTEPA’s duties for three years in place . This step is said to violate previous SC commands.

In 1998, under Dharmadhikari’s tenure, DTEPA declared the proposed port “totally impermissible and … illegal” as it would be “detrimental to the environmental and socio-economic conditions of the Dahanu region”.

Finally, in December 2021, in response to environmentalists’ demands and with pending court cases in the HC and SC, the central government dissolved the ad hoc committee and subsequently reinstated the DTEPA in February 2022, appointing former judge AB Chaudhari as chairman . Source: Hindustan Times

Related Articles

Back to top button

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Don't miss new updates on your email