Mumbai: The country’s largest container port JNPT is facing hurdles for its most ambitious expansion at Wadhavan, as a local environment authority has stalled the Rs10,000-crore project. “The only issue is that the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority has objected to the Wadhavan project," JNPT Deputy Chairman Neeraj Bansal told PTI.
He said the authority is opposing the project despite the fact that the project has been shifted to mid-sea. “Now they are saying even on sea side you cannot go, and you have to take our permission," Bansal said, adding the port is in touch with the Union Shipping Ministry, which in turn will have to make a representation to the Union Environment Ministry.
“We have taken up the matter with the ministry because we have to reach out to the environment ministry so that suitable amendments or modifications can be done. Whatsoever mis-impressions are there can be removed and legal problems can be solved," Bansal said. Dahanu tehsil in the newly carved out Palghar district is in the ecologically sensitive zone and the taluka’s green body was set up specifically to protect the area.
In April, JNPT had said it was confident of getting the green nod in three months, and Bansal said it has received the stop-work notice “recently “. When asked about the how much time it will take to get the permissions, Bansal conceded that this will delay the project, but was quick to add that such an eventuality has already been factored in.
The setback has come at a critical time, as the port was set to complete a detailed project report on the proposed port, which also has equity contribution from the Maharashtra Maritime Board. “The Dahanu environment protection agency is saying they have the constitutional mandate to take the stance they have taken. You have not taken permission from us and it should not be done," he said.
“We are sure that we will be able to convince that all environmental issues will be protected, and due care will be taken," Bansal said, adding generally, it is for the Environment Ministry and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to assess environmental concerns.
Apart from the notice from Dahanu Environment Protection Agency, Bansal said the port is also facing opposition from the local public but exuded confidence of convincing them. “Not a single person will be displaced or any house acquired because the project rests on reclaimed land," he said, adding a detailed survey of what the locals do for a living has been done.
The findings will help the port to provide employment to the local people as per their skillsets, he said. The port plans to reclaim about 2,000 hectares from the sea and was initially planning to start with breakwater construction from 2018 and commissioning of the first phase by 2022.
As the port will be built on the sea and is not thus dependent on any channel, the port will have the deepest draft in the country, he said, adding it will be an all-weather and all-cargo port.