Adani Group Secures In-Principle Approval To Divert 1552 Hectares Of Forest Land
March 2nd, 2018
The Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) has secured “in principle” an approval from a panel of environment ministry to divert 1552.81 hectares of forest land for development in the Gujarat Kutch district.
The SEZ had earlier justified the diversion of forest land by stating that “contiguous blocks of lands are required to facilitate proper area planning” according to The Indian Express. The port recently came under the Supreme Court’s scanner for violating environmental norms by levelling sand dunes that act as a natural defence for the coastline and seaside biodiversity.
Minutes from the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting on January 25 states that the FAC “deliberated on the fact that establishment of port-based SEZ is necessary for the development of the country.” “On analysis by DSS, it is observed that most of the forest area and revenue areas are under non-forestry use and some patches of forest areas are available inside SEZ.” The Forest Management Decision Support System (DSS) is a satellite-based system used by FAC to assess conditions of forests, according to The Indian Express.
The panel however excluded 24 hectares of land near Dhrub village. The Mudra Port and SEZ project have undergone several controversies and in the last twenty years, they have made several modifications. They tried to get forest clearance in June 1998, when they wanted to divert 2,400 hectares of forest land. They failed to secure clearance as there were over 19 lakh mangrove trees which were ecologically fragile.
The FAC has certain conditions. They said that the diverted forest land should be maintained as a green area within the Special Economic Zone, the diversion for non-forestry uses will be decided on case by case basis by the environment ministry and the diverted forest land cannot be used as a golf course, beach resort, park, residential purposes or for the construction of a private aerodrome “as demanded by the user agency”, as reported by Scroll.
The forest land may be considered, in future on merits, in case a commercial airport is developed with the approval of DGCA, it said.