New Delhi: Port and harbour projects in India need to undertake a cumulative impact study before getting clearance, a study endorsed by the government has recommended.
New recommendations: Scientist M.S. Swaminathan and environment minister Jairam Ramesh with the report submitted by the expert committee on coastal management in New Delhi on Friday. Atul Yadav / PTI
Currently, major port projects have to get clearances under the coastal regulation zone notification of 1991 and an environmental clearance from the Central government.
“Changes (in current rules) will be incorporated keeping in mind the scientific principles related to sustainable development as suggested by the four-member panel,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.
The expert committee on coastal management has also recommended coastal water rights for the largely Dalit fishing community, mirroring the United Progressive Alliance’s legislation of forest rights for tribals and forest dwellers.
The committee said that India’s shoreline is undergoing a major change due to a large number of port projects but there is little information of their cumulative impact on the coastline. “Already, many of these infrastructure projects have caused significant shoreline changes, as in Ennore (Tamil Nadu), Puducherry, Alibag (Maharashtra), Digha (West Bengal) and Dahej (gujarat),” the report said.
The environment ministry has asked the ministry of earth sciences to study the cumulative impact of proposed ports in three months. Under India’s environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, ports with cargo handling capacity need clearance. The cargo handling capacity at India’s ports have to be doubled to 1,590 million tonnes (mt) a year by 2012 from about 757mt now, with an investment of Rs91,334 crore. Out of this, Rs65,532 crore would be invested by private firms in new ports.
“Prima facie, the new rules appear to be in the overall interest of India’s new ports being developed by private firms,” said Rajeev Sinha, director at Mundra Port and Special Economic Port Ltd, the operator of India’s biggest private port owned by billionaire Gautam Adani at Mundra in Gujarat.
(P. Manoj of Mint and ‘PTI’ contributed to this story.)