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Maharashtra village in green zone? Activists won’t let it slip by

The Union environment ministry’s draft notification for the Western Ghats released on October 3 has marked Vilye, one of the 14 villages in Rajapur taluka in Ratnagiri that are affected by the project, as ESA.

mumbai Updated: Oct 29, 2018 00:28 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
mumbai,maharashtra,refinery
Picture for representation only.(HT Photo)

While the authorities are worried over whether the inclusion of one of the villages in Rajapur in Ratnagiri in the ecological sensitive area (ESA) will have an impact on the Nanar oil refinery project, activists are pleased with the move.

The Union environment ministry’s draft notification for the Western Ghats released on October 3 has marked Vilye, one of the 14 villages in Rajapur taluka in Ratnagiri that are affected by the project, as ESA. Classification as ESA means projects such as mining, quarrying, thermal power plants, setting up of industries, buildings, construction of townships and area development projects are banned in the region.

“While some of these areas are built on plateaus, there are pockets of forests, home to wild animals, birds and medicinal plants. We will be writing to the environment ministry,” said Ashok Valam, head of the Konkan Refinery Sangharsh Samiti (KRSS).

“Not only Vilye, but several other villages, had in the past been surveyed by the Madhav Gadgil committee and village panchayats had recommended they be classified as ESAs. We are currently discussing this with various villages, listing the biodiversity, and will be writing individual suggestions to the Centre,” said Satyajit Chavan from Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti.

According to RRPCL, 1164.15 acres from Vilye will be allocated for the refinery, which will affect 82 families. Vilye is one of the many other villages in Rajapur taluka that are dependent on the Alphonso mango for their income, which the villagers say is at stake owing to the construction of the refinery.

Suhash Shankar Tawde, 46, resident and mango farmer from Vilye, said they have been repeatedly informing the district administration about the ecological significance of the area. “We have spotted jungle cats, leopards, hyenas, and a host of floral and faunal biodiversity in this region. There will be a substantial decline in groundwater and chemical interaction with the water of this area if the refinery is built,” he said.

After the Kerala floods in August, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the environment ministry to finalise the ESA list at the earliest for protection of the Western Ghats. HT has a copy of the draft notification.

RRPCL officials told HT they were identifying the exact portion from Vilye region allocated for the refinery, and whether it was proposed within the ESA. “Some villages in this area are marked for the refinery, while others have been left out,” said Ajit V Morye, public relations officer, RRPCL.

“RRPCL will carry out a detailed survey within a week, after which the boundary will be marked. If any area falls within the ESA, corrective action will be taken.”

First Published: Oct 29, 2018 00:24 IST