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State imposes interim stay on Konkan jetty project

PUBLISHED ON FEB 06, 2020 01:07 AM IST

Environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, on Tuesday, imposed a temporary stay on a captive jetty project proposed along the south Konkan coast.

The project planned at Nate village in Ratnagiri district, within the eco-sensitive Ambolgadh and Kasheli region, was opposed by local villagers, environmentalists and marine biologists.

“The environment minister has directed a temporary stay on all clearances and construction until further notice. The minister said he will be personally visiting the proposed jetty site. He will consult experts to assess the ecological impact of the project and hear all objections from local residents,” said a senior official from the environment department.

At a cost of 135 crore, the third party captive jetty, with a capacity of 10 million tons per annum will be built across 428.5 hectares.

In January, I LOG Ports Private Limited, a subsidiary of Kolkata-based SREI Infrastructure Finance, commenced marine and soil testing activities for the project. This forced local residents led by Jana Hakka Seva Samiti (JHSS) to carry out massive protests at Nate and neighbouring villages. “We welcome the decision by the state. With jetty, there will more polluting (red category) industries threatening the entire Ratnagiri coastline. We will continue to oppose this project until it is withdrawn,” said Satyajit Chavan, president Jana Hakka Seva Samiti.

Project proponents have rubbished claims that the project would cause harm to the environment. “We have not received any communication from the state yet. If we do, we will convince the ministry about the economic advantages of such a project in Konkan region. The project is not at all environmentally damaging and there are vested interests in nearby villages that are attempting to block the construction.”

The project, however, awaits final environment clearance (EC) from the Centre.

The project was first proposed in 2010 when a thermal power plant was planned along with the jetty but the idea was dropped in subsequent years. The project has been opposed by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) that had issued a detailed letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in January post soil testing work. “Districts like Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg are coastal zones of high ecological value, clean beaches, and do not warrant such projects. Rather, local livelihood and economic boost can come from a sustainable tourism model,” said Deepak Apte, director, BNHS.

“EC issued for JNPP in 2010 had clearly identified the Nate village area as eco-sensitive, and a 2012 conservation plan by BNHS highlighted how polluting industries would degrade the rich marine biodiversity,” Apte added.

Located in close proximity to the 9,900 megawatt Jaitapur Nuclear power plant (JNPP), the jetty will handle a bauxite beneficiation plant and also act a storage transport terminal for cargoes such as coal, fertilisers, sugar, bauxite, cement, steel structures and engineering goods etc. for refineries and other industrial clusters in the region.

JETTY AREA PROPOSED AS BIODIVERSTIY HERITAGE SITE

Pune-based Biome Conservation Foundation, Rock Outcrop Network, a network of citizens and scientists which works towards creating awareness on unique lateritic plateau ecosystems of Maharashtra, wrote to environment minister Aaditya Thackeray on February 2 proposed 11 sites in south Ratnagiri, including areas of the Nate village in Ambolgadh region in Rajapur taluka as a biodiversity heritage site to ensure sustainability of the ecosystems and livelihoods through local sustainable tourism activities.

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