The environment ministry has revoked the environment clearance to Nirma’s cement plant in Gujarat and said it should be located to an alternate location.
The ministry in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court said that present project site was a wetland, where no anthropogenic activity that can affect the water flow can be allowed.
"There could be alternative sites enough in the vicinity that breeds no contention. No fresh water sanctuary needs to be razed to pitch a cement plant therein," the ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) had said.
The EAC was asked by the court to examine the project after Nirma challenged environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s show cause notice to revoke the environment clearance granted to the project in 2007.
The plant is being put up on 268 hectares of land while the company has got over 3000 hectares of land for mining in the nearby area on Saurashtra coast in Bhavnagar district.
An expert group headed by former pro-vice-chancellor of Delhi University C R Babu found that the project site was a wetland with a high number of bird activity. That was enough for the EAC to revoke the clearance, which it said was granted on basis of incorrect information.
The project is being opposed by local farmers led by local BJP MLA Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria. According to the locals, the project is being constructed on a water body, which has been built to provide irrigation to over a dozen villages in the area.
Nirma company executives and Gujarat revenue department officials told the EAC that the project site was wasteland as per state government records and setting up a cement plant away from a lime quarry will not be cost effective.
"If the project is allowed, agriculture of over a dozen villages will be destroyed, displacing several thousand families while Nirma cement plant will provide employment to only several hundred persons," Dr Kalsaria said.