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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Environment ministry wants Dahanu green panel scrapped, files plea in SC

The environment ministry wants a monitoring panel to replace the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority ; activists say action over DTEPA’S refusal to port at Vadhavan.

mumbai Updated: Aug 16, 2019 10:39 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
In 1998, the DTEPA rejected the proposal to build the Vadhavan port , and in 2017, it reiterated that work can’t begin without its nod.
In 1998, the DTEPA rejected the proposal to build the Vadhavan port , and in 2017, it reiterated that work can’t begin without its nod. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT File Photo )
         

The ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MOEFCC) has filed an application in the SC to scrap the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA). The authority was created 23 years ago to protect the ecologically fragile area’s horticulture and fishing industries from industrial pollution.

In the application, which HT has a copy of, MOEFCC said DTEPA “may no longer be necessary” as newer regulations and authorities are in place to protect coastal areas. “In order to implement these rules, separate authorities like the State Coastal Zone Management Authority, Water Quality Assessment Authority, Aquaculture Authority, and Central Ground Water Authority etc. were established. Moreover, the National Green Tribunal has been established to address grievances of any person…,” reads the application.

The ministry has proposed the formation of a monitoring committee to replace DTEPA, which would be similar to other committees for eco-sensitive zones in India and have a fixed tenure of three years. The MOEFCC also told the court DTEPA costs the ministry Rs 50 lakh per annum.

Activists have alleged the DTEPA is being targeted for its refusal to allow the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to build an international port at Vadhavan, a fishing village in the Dahanu region. “A similar effort was made a few years ago to dilute the authority, which was rejected by the SC,” said Debi Goenka from Conservation Action Trust.

In 1998, the DTEPA had rejected the proposal to build the port and in 2017, it reiterated that the project cannot begin without the DTEPA’S permission.

Stalin D, director, Vanashakti said, “The coming of this port will spell the death knell for the environment in Dahanu.”

In 1989, the state proposed a thermal power plant near Dahanu town, despite the Environment Protection Act restricting development of industries in eco-fragile zones. Locals moved court unsuccessfully and the power plant was eventually set up in 1995. Environmentalist Bittu Sehgal filed a petition in the SC in 1994, which led to DTEPA being created in 1996 to resolve local disputes on environmental issues. “This was one of the first authorities that worked independent of the state or Centre for the complete protection of ecologically fragile zones,” said Goenka.