Home >> News >> Environment Ministry Places Ban on Projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg
The ministry of environment and forests,
headed by Mr. Jairam Ramesh, has put on hold till December 16 environmental
clearance for industrial projects across various sectors in Kokan’s Ratnagiri
and Sindhudurg districts.
In view of the moratorium, which was put in
place on August 16, projects in the fields of power, mining, chemical and
petrochemicals, fertiliser, steel, processing, oil and gas transportation
pipeline and 11 other sectors will have to wait till December 16 for the
This comes close on the heels of the
ministry’s stand on the development of a new international airport in Navi
Mumbai. It has opposed the project on environmental grounds, though Civil
Aviation Minister Praful Patel has said that it is the best option to decongest
the Mumbai airport.
“The moratorium has been imposed under the
Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. It will be applicable to
category-A and -B projects,” an official in the ministry said.
Category-A projects need environment
clearance from the ministry on the recommendations of an Expert Appraisal
Committee, while category-B need environmental approval from the environment
impact assessment authority of the state.
However, the state government has protested
the move. An official, who did not want to be quoted, said: “The moratorium is
unwarranted. The ministry could have made the conditions with regard to
pollution more stringent or introduced online monitoring. The decision comes at
a time when the government plans to study the possibilities for the Ratnagiri
and Sindhudurg districts.”
Power projects of about 35,000 Mw are being
planned in the two districts. These include, amongst others, the expansion of
Dabhol to 1,500 Mw, JSW’s Jaigad project of 1,200 Mw plus (which can be
expanded to 3,000 Mw) and Nuclear Power Corporation’s 10,000 Mw plant.
Some of these projects have received
in-principle clearance, though the final approval is awaited. However,
environment ministry sources said as these projects were under various stages
of approval they would not be impacted by the moratorium.
According to the ministry’s communication
of August 16 to the state government and the Maharashtra Pollution Control
Board, the moratorium has been imposed because it has received representations
about the possible environmental impact and ecological degradation to be caused
by projects under implementation and the new proposed ones.
The ministry said the matter regarding
development in these districts was referred to the Western Ghats Ecology Expert
Panel which has been set up to suggest conservation, protection and
rejuvenation of the Western Ghats. Nearly
63,000 hectares are under mango cultivation in Ratnagiri and 28,000 hectares in
Sindhudurg, while cashewnut is grown on 90,000 hectares in Ratnagiri and 75,000
hectares in Sindhudurg. The annual turnover from mangoes alone is of the order
of Rs 2,400 crore.