Thursday, September 4, 2008

Power plant to come up on Jamnagar Marine Park land

Hiral Dave
Posted online: Thursday , September 04, 2008 at 02:32:17

Ahmedabad, September 3 A part of the Jamnagar Marine National Park and Sanctuary will now be regularised under the state government owned Western Gujarat Electricity Company (WGEC). The water cooling system — intake and outlet of a 240 MW power plant — was functioning on two hectares of the Sanctuary since 1982. Now the Gujarat Wildlife Advisory Board (WAB) has recommended to the Central government to hand over the said piece of land to the WGEC.

The WAB has termed its decision as a formal step towards land regularisation, even as the Fisheries College under the Junagadh Agriculture University has said that marine bio-diversity at the park has gone for a toss due to industrial pollution. Research officer N N Jani has said that the presence of the power plant and the nearby petrochemical units of Reliance and Essar, has led to the release of effluents and oil spills, which has had a severe impact on the biodiversity of the park.

The Marine National Park at Sikka, some 15 kilometres from Jamnagar is one of its kind in the country. Spread on the southern shores of the Gulf of Kutch, it boasts of diverse flora and fauna; complete with a coral reef ecosystem and a mangrove plantation. It is home to a variety of turtles, shrimps, sponges, eels, sea urchins, dugana — a kind of seal, blackjacks, and birds like herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills ducks and gulls.

The decision to hand over the land was taken at a meeting held in Gandhinagar on September 2. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who also happens to be the WAB Chairman, and Pradeep Khanna, Chief Conservator of Forest, were among those present at the meeting.

P M Sata, Divisional Forest Officer, Marine National Park, said the two hectares of land has been a part of the MNP since its formation in 1982 under the Wildlife Act.

On his part, S K Nanda, a member of the Wildlife Advisory Board, said: “It was a technical error at the time of demarcating the boundaries for the Park, as the thermal power plant already existed there. There are other petrochemical/oil units located well within the Park.

“Even if the land belonged to the thermal power plant from the very beginning, its regularisation would break another wildlife law.

“There would be negligible space between the plant site and the MNP. According to the Wildlife Act, there should be no activity within five kilometres of the Park.”

State Forest and Environment Minister Mangubhai Patel refused to comment on the issue.


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