Gas pipeline through Dahanu ESZ gets green nod
Mumbai: A proposed 45-km long compressed natural gas (CNG) pipeline passing through the Dahanu eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) has received environmental clearance (EC) and coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance from the union environment ministry earlier this month. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) conducted a public hearing for the same on January 27.
The project is being executed by Gujarat Gas Limited and will supply piped natural gas to homes in the Thane district. It will start from Umargam Road at Zai Village in Dahanu taluka, running parallel to existing roads under the custodianship of the public works department and the taluka municipality. The pipeline will end at Dahanu’s Kolavali village.
As per the minutes of the MPCB’s public hearing, which was attended by 35 citizens from Dahanu and nearby talukas, the main concerns raised by them were related to the destruction of mangroves and the usage of gram panchayat land in villages that fall under the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, or PESA.
The minutes of the public hearing show that several attendees were in favour of cancelling the public hearing as prior permission from various PESA villages in the vicinity of the project has not yet been obtained.
An official with the MPCB, who was present for the public hearing, said that the objections of the citizens have been noted and that a resolution from the local gram panchayats will be sought prior to the commencement of physical works.
“The minutes of the public hearing have been shared with the MoEFCC and they have cleared the project after all considerations,” they said, seeking anonymity. Stage-1 forest clearance and CRZ clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) were granted in 2019.
In addition to EC and CRZ clearances from the Centre, however, the project also requires clearance from the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority, which is yet to consider the proposal.
The Dahanu ESZ serves as an ecological buffer between the highly industrialised region of Vapi in Gujarat, and the Boisar industrial complex in Tarapur, which is also home to the Tarapur Atomic Power Plant. It is also home to the upcoming Vadhavan port project, which is being opposed by local fisherfolk communities and environmentalists, who have for decades been advocating for stronger land-use regulations in the region.
“The manner in which this project has been pushed is clearly against the procedure. The entire Dahanu eco-sensitive zone is being fragmented by multiple linear intrusions other than this pipeline, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, Mumbai-Vadodara expressway, the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, and another set of pipelines to carry water from the Surya Dam to Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust and an invitee of the DTEPA.
Goenka further said that environmental clearances for these projects need to be considered keeping in mind their cumulative impact on the ecosystem. “Such piecemeal clearances run counter to the intent of the MoEFCC’s 1991 notification declaring the region as eco-sensitive.”
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