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JNPT projects in Uran, Nhava under scanner

By Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON DEC 05, 2019 01:10 AM IST

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) deferred a proposal made by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to construct sea walls at Gharapuri Island and Panje village in Uran, and a boat landing jetty at Nhava, over concerns of mangrove destruction.

Sea walls are bunds constructed with cement or sand to prevent sea from eroding land.

MCZMA has directed the state mangrove cell to inspect if mangroves are being lost at the site of the proposed projects or if the projects fall within 50m of mangroves, and suggest alternate arrangements. The details were revealed from the minutes of MCZMA’s monthly meeting, published on its website last week.

“The location of Gharapuri and Panje are far from the area where the seawalls are being proposed. Also, both the villages are located on slightly elevated zones. So if sea-levels rise in the future, it may not pose a serious threat to them. Hence, the rendering of such massive walls is unnecessary. Keeping the safety of the villagers in mind, we are not rejecting the projects. But the mangrove cell needs to ensure that not a single tree is affected owing to the projects, especially around the proposed jetty,” said a senior MCZMA official, who was present at the meeting.

Confirming the development, N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (mangrove cell), said, “Our assistant conservator of forest visited the site. But we cannot comment on the issue now as the final feasibility report is yet to be submitted by the official.”

Responding to the allegations, JNPT said that it was granted environment and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance from the Union environment ministry for deepening and widening of the existing Mumbai harbour and JNPT’s port channel in March 2017 and these projects were a part of the environmental responsibility fulfilment projects in the larger interest of the safety of the villages in Uran and Nhava.

“These are minor projects and we have an obligation to complete them for the larger planned projects in this port zone. The seawalls are being built as per the request made by the villagers of these two locations during a public consultation held with our officials,” said SV Madbhavi, chief manager, JNPT.

He said JNPT is ensuring that mangroves are not affected by the projects.

“The projects are being made 50m away from the mangroves. The state mangrove cell had visited the sites and observed that mangroves were not affected on most areas of these two locations,” Madbhavi said.

According to the experts, bunds could do more damage than ensuring safety.

“Seawalls impact tidal movement and increase the strength of waves around them, which may increase chances of erosion closer to the coast,” said E Vivekandan, marine biologist.

Fishermen also worry that these proposed projects would lead to loss of ecologically -sensitive zones.

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