सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Statue of Unity project to adversely impact livelihood, downstream biodiversity

Fence around proposed Shreshtha Bhawan 

By Trupti Shah, Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The National Green Tribunal (Western Zone), Pune bench, issued a notice on April 9, 2015 in the Application No. 32 of 2015 (Trupti Shah & Ors V/s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel RET & Ors) filed against the Statue of Unity project. The second hearing took place on April 16, 2015, and now the next date of hearing has been fixed for May 8, 2015. Since March 2015 authorities constructed fencing around the homes of six tribal families comprising of 70 people for the construction of the proposed Shreshtha (Bhrashta) Bharat Bhavan. Police force stands guard 24X7 outside the newly raised gate which the people have to pass through to access their homes and land – they feel as if they live in a veritable “open air prison”.
Since October 31, 2013 at the time of the laying of the foundational stone of the Statue of Unity project, activists have been writing to respondent authorities raising several important questions about the environmental and social impact of the project on the area and thousands of tribals’ life and livelihood. In several subsequent letters question was raised as to why the authorities have not secured the requisite environmental clearance and public hearing for this elaborated tourism project, but the authorities chose to remain silent and gave work order on October 27, 2014 to start the constructing for the project to the Larsen & Toubro Limited.
A group of concerned citizens – Trupti Shah, Girishbhai Patel, Krishnakant, Mahesh Pandya, Ghanshyam Shah, Chinu Srinivasan, Persis Ginwalla, Rohit Prajapati, Saroop Dhruv, and Rajnibhai Dave – filed a case, Application No 32/2015 (WZ) (Trupti Shah & Ors V/s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel RET & Ors), against the Statue of Unity project on March 23, 2015 in the National Green Tribunal (Western Zone) Pune bench asking for an immediate halt to all work on the Statue of Unity project at the Kevadia village of the Narmada district, Gujarat.
Well-known senior human rights lawyer who practices in the High Court of Mumbai, Gujarat and the Supreme Court of India, Mihir Desai, Lara Jesani (who practice in the High Court of Mumbai and the National Green Tribunal) and Asim Sarode (who practices in the National Green Tribunal, Pune) comprise the legal counsels for the case.
The first hearing took place at Pune on April 9, 2015 and notice was issued to the Chairman, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), the chairman and managing director, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd., the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, the member secretary, State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority, the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and the chief executive officer and managing director, Larsen & Toubro Limited, and application was fixed for hearing on April 16, 2015. On April 16, 2015 the Government of Gujarat asked for time to file their reply and court granted May 8, 2015 for the next hearing.
The main demands of the application are:
Pass orders staying any and / or ongoing work with respect to the Statue of Unity project, or any component thereof in the Narmada District, Gujarat.
Direct the respondents to take adequate and necessary measures to ensure stoppage of any further work in the Statue of Unity project, or any component thereof.
Direct the Respondents to initiate legal action under Sections 15 and 16 of the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986 against the concerned individuals and companies that have started work or given permission for work of Statue of Unity project, or any component thereof.
Direct the Respondents to initiate legal action under Section 17 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 against the concerned officers who have failed to ensure complete compliance of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 before allowing commencement of the work in respect of Statue of Unity project.
Pending the hearing and final disposal of this application to restrain the Respondents from carrying out any further work in respect of Statue of Unity project, or any component thereof.
Direct the Respondent Nos 1 and 2 to take all necessary steps for restitution of the project area to its status quo ante.
Pass such other or further order/ orders as this honourable court may deem fit and proper in the interests of justice.

The Statue of Unity project, as is abundantly clear from the official website (www.statueofunity.in), is not simply the construction of a “mute monument”. It is an elaborate tourism project which includes its principal component, a 182 meter-tall iron statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel built over a project area of more than 120,000 sq.metres surrounded by a man-made lake (reservoir called Garudeshwar weir); a bridge connecting the statute to the mainland; improved roadway between the Statue and the Kevadia village; parking and transport site; and hotel and convention centre (Shreshtha Bharat Bhawan). These project components are proposed to be constructed as part of Phase I of the Statue of Unity project.
Phase II of the project will include the development of banks of river Narmada up to the Bharuch district; development of road, rail and tourist infrastructure; schools, colleges and universities for tribal development; education Research Centre and Knowledge City; tourism corridor from Garudeshwar to Bhadbhut; and clean technology research park and agriculture training centre. These are also part of the composite Statue of Unity project, although the project area of the same has not yet been revealed to the general public.
The environmental clearance required under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of September 2006 has not been sought for any component of this elaborate project. This is despite the fact that the Statue of Sardar Patel, which is the principal component of the project is to be constructed 3.2 kilometres from the Sardar Sarovar dam and adjacent to the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary, the boundary of which touches the Sardar Sarovar reservoir, and on the right of the statue the Nana Thavadia village is part of Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary.
The project will involve extensive construction work in an active riverbed of a perennial river, Narmada, and also is likely to fall within a critical wetlands area as and when the same is to be notified under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. The construction of the project and tourism and other human activities after the completion of the project is bound to have adverse effects on the downstream river, its biodiversity, and the surrounding wetlands all of which has been ignored by the respondent authorities. It is also pertinent that for the world’s tallest statue, the respondent authorities have not even engaged in a social and environmental impact assessment which would shed light on the impact of the project and the resultant influx of migrant labourers and tourists on the livelihoods of the indigenous people who have been residing downstream from the project for generations.
The safety and disaster management component of the project has also been casually dealt with, which is particularly shocking seeing as how the construction for the project is on an active tectonic plate in a fault line area which is already burdened with the load of the Sardar Sarovar dam and its massive reservoir! Aside from the blatant violation of the EIA notification, wetland rules, and other relevant laws, the respondent authorities have gone to great lengths to evade public transparency and crush the people’s democratic opposition to the impugned project.
On October 31, 2013 at the time of the laying of the foundational stone of the Statue of Unity, civil society activists delivered a notice to the respondent authorities raising the question as to why the latter has not secured the requisite environmental clearance. Rather than responding to the concern raised, the respondent authorities illegally put some of the peaceful protesters under house arrest, even as detaining others. Further, in March 2015 fencing was constructed around the homes of six tribal families comprising 70 people who live near the site of the proposed Shreshtha (Bhrashta) Bharat Bhavan. Police force stands guard 24X7 outside the newly raised gate which the people have to pass through to access their homes and land – they feel as if they live in a veritable Open Air Prison. The terrorisation of the people continued on until March 28, 2015 when six peacefully protesting villagers and their three children were illegally arrested and held without proper food and facilities.
The respondents had asked for the time for reply. Now the case will be heard by the NGT on 8 May 2015.

*Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

दाँव उल्टा पड़ा: राहुल गांधी के रूप में हम एक साधारण इंसान को नायक होते देख रहे हैं

-  अमिता नीरव  संघ औऱ बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी पर जो सोचकर ‘इन्वेस्ट’ किया था, उसके परिणाम गंभीर रूप से नुकसानदेह आ रहे हैं। ये थोड़ी अटपटी बात लग सकती है, लेकिन सोचिएगा कि संघ और बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी को जितना गंभीरता से लिया, उनकी संभावनाओं को लेकर वे जितना श्योर थे, उतना तो खुद राहुल और कांग्रेस भी नहीं थी।

બે-રોકટોક રણ અભયારણ્ય વિસ્તારમાં માફિયાઓનું અન-અધિકૃત અને ગેર-કાયદેસર પ્રવૃત્તિઓ

- અગરિયા હિત રક્ષક મંચ  કચ્છના નાના રણમાં શિકારપૂર, કાનમેર રણ વિસ્તારમાં જમીન માફિયા જુથ વચ્ચેની આંધાધૂંધ ગોળીબાર થયો તેમાં એક વ્યક્તિ નો જીવ ગયો. આ ઘટનાથી ફરી એકવાર કચ્છના નાના રણની જમીન પર ગેરકાયદેસર કબજો કરી તેનો સોદો કરનારા જૂથો, ટોળીઓની વાત ચર્ચામાં આવી છે. 

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

राम के महल में आग लगाता हनुमान: चर्चित सोशल मीडिया इनफ्लुएंसर दिलीप मंडल

- प्रमोद रंजन  चर्चित सोशल मीडिया इनफ्लुएंसर दिलीप मंडल ने अचानक राजनीतिक पलटी मारी है और राजद-सपा-स्टालिन आदि के खेमे को छोड़ कर राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के लिए बैटिंग करने लगे हैं। कई लोगों में उनके कथित पतन से दु:ख खीज और गुस्सा है।

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

આપણા સમાજમાં દીકરીના માતપિતાનો દરજ્જો દીકરાના માતાપિતા કરતાં નિમ્ન કક્ષાનો કેમ?

- તૃપ્તિ શેઠ  થોડાંક દિવસ પહેલાં એક દુકાનમાં ખરીદી કરવાં ગઈ અને એ બહેન જે દુકાન પર બેઠાં હતાં એ ફોન પર વાતો જ કર્યા કરતાં હતાં . હું કંટાળીને આગળ જવા ગઈ તો એ મને કહે , "સોરી !  મારી મમ્મીને હું રોજ આ સમયે ફોન કરું છું કેમ કે એ મંદિરમાં રહે છે અને ત્યાં ઈલેક્ટ્રિસિટી નથી. એ પાંચ રૂપીઆમાં ફોન રોજ ચાર્જ કરાવે અને મારી સાથે વાત કરે." મે પૂછ્યું તારી મમ્મી કેમ એકલી રહે છે, તો એનો જવાબ હતો કે મારા બે ભાઈઓએ મારી મમ્મીને એના ઘરમાંથી કાઢી મૂકી છે એટલે એક ગામના છેવાડે આવેલાં મંદિરમાં રહે છે અને ત્યાં કામ કરે છે . મે કહ્યું ,” તું કેમ તારી મમ્મીની બોલાવી લેતી નથી ? “ તો મને કહે, મારી મા કહે છે કે છોકરીને ઘરે પાણી પણ પીએ તો  પાપ લાગે. 

તત્વચિંતક રાજનીતિજ્ઞ મોદીનાં લોકસભાની ચૂંટણી સંદર્ભે મહાન વ્યાખ્યાનો પ્રકાશિત કરવા જોઈએ

- ઉત્તમ પરમાર  વિશ્વના મહાન તત્વચિંતક રાજનીતિજ્ઞ અને આપણા મહાન વડાપ્રધાન આદરણીય નરેન્દ્રભાઈ મોદી 2024ની લોકસભાની ચૂંટણી સંદર્ભે જે જાહેર વ્યાખ્યાનો આપી રહ્યા છે, એ માત્ર ભારતના વડાપ્રધાનોના નહીં પરંતુ વિશ્વના વડાપ્રધાનોના પ્રવચનો પૈકી સર્વશ્રેષ્ઠ પ્રવચનો છે.

एक बहुत बड़ा झूठ: मुसलमानों की आबादी बढ़ती रही तो हिन्दू अल्पसंख्यक बन जाएंगे

- राम पुनियानी  चुनावी मौसम जैसे-जैसे समाप्ति की ओर बढ़ रहा है, वैसे-वैसे समाज को बांटने वाला प्रचार भी अपने चरम पर पहुँच रहा है. भाजपा के मुख्य प्रचारक स्वयं प्रधानमंत्री मोदी है. इस चुनाव में उनका पूरा नैरेटिव इस झूठ के  आसपास बुना गया है कि अगर इंडिया गठबंधन सत्ता में आया तो वह सारी सुविधाएं और लाभ केवल मुसलमानों को देगा. हर चीज़ पर मुसलमानों का पहला हक होगा और संविधान में इस तरह के बदलाव किये जाएंगे जिससे हिन्दू इस देश के दूसरे दर्जे के नागरिक बन जाएंगे. मोदीजी हमें जॉर्ज ऑरवेल के उपन्यास “नाइनटीन एट्टी-फोर”  की याद दिलाता है, जिसमें सच को सिर के बल खड़ा कर दिया जाता है. हिन्दुओं में यह डर पैदा किया जा रहा है कि देश में मुसलमान सारे विशेषाधिकार हासिल कर लेंगे.

हीट-एक्शन नीति में अनौपचारिक व खुले-में-कार्यरत मजदूरों को शामिल नहीं करना निंदनीय

- नेशनल अलायन्स ऑफ़ पीपुल्स मूवमेंट्स  पूरे भारत में 'चुनावी गर्मी' ज़ोर पकड़ चुकी है, जो हम सभी को साफ़-साफ़ दिखाई भी दे रही है। हालाँकि, एक और गर्मी है जो नागरिकों, विशेष रूप से करोड़ों खुले में काम करने वाले श्रमिकों को प्रभावित करती है, यह न तो 'चुनावी मुद्दा' है और न ही इस पर सामाजिक रूप से पर्याप्त ध्यान दिया जाता है। भारत के ग्रामीण और शहरी दोनों हिस्सों में मेहनतकश लोग, जो चिलचिलाती धूप में भी हमारे गाँवों और शहरों के लिए अनाज पैदा करते हैं, हर तरह का निर्माण कार्य करते हैं, शहरों व गांवों को चलाते हैं, हमें विभिन्न प्रकार की सेवाएँ प्रदान करें, लेकिन इसी वर्ग का अभी तक 'मुख्यधारा' के जलवायु न्याय और नीतिगत विमर्श में पर्याप्त रूप से प्रतिनिधित्व नहीं किया गया है।