- South Goa
- EAC decision jolts Zuari Agro
EAC decision jolts Zuari Agro
The Expert Appraisal Committee has turned down ZACL’s Rs 788 crore expansion proposal; Many projects were proposed in the area covered under the CRZ regulations; Environmentalists who have been following the development have raised questions on GCZMA’s approval to the project in September 2017; ZACL to redesign plan and present it to the committee
The Expert Appraisal Committee EAC (Industry-2) of the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change has turned down the proposal for granting environmental clearance to Zuari Agro Chemicals Limited (ZACL) for its Rs 788 crore proposed expansion of fertilizer blending unit for NPK production, gas turbine (GT), Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) and atmospheric ammonia storage tank at its Zuarinagar plant.
According to the information, the proposal came up before the EAC (Industry 2) at its meeting on April 25, and after hearing the EIA Consultant, EAC opined that the project actually involves increase in production of urea from the present capacity of 1500 TPD to 1800 TPD, along with installation of ammonia storage tank of 1x5000 MT (replacing the existing storage facilities), gas turbine of 25 MW and heat recovery steam generator.
The projects are proposed to be implemented in the area covered under the CRZ regulations.
The committee further noted that bulk of the project area lies between 200 m-500 m from the HTL, classified as CRZ-III, as per the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan of the area.
The activities are also proposed only in that CRZ-III area, which are not permissible under the extant provisions of the CRZ notification, 2011. Accordingly, the committee observed the proposal ‘not admissible’ in terms of the statutory provisions, and thus not recommended.
“In fact the ZACL expansion proposal has been rejected precisely on the same objection raised by me at the public hearing i.e. that the project falls under CRZ area and that setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries is prohibited within CRZ,” said Savio Correia, Environmental activist from Vasco
Though the EAC has rejected the ZACL expansion proposal, however, environmental activists who have been very closely following up the development in this case have raised serious questions on GCZMA’s approval for this prohibited project in September 2017.
“While I am happy that EAC has upheld our objections, I am shocked and surprised that GCZMA granted its approval for the prohibited project in September 2017; that I feel is a sad reflection on its functioning. I had also submitted a representation to GCZMA in October 2017 to review their decision, but haven't heard of it since,” Correia added
Interestingly, in his written submission before GCZMA, Correia who is also a member of Goa State Environment Protection Council (GEPC) had even requested the GCZMA to review the NOC/recommendation and undo the mischief when found to be Ultra Vires.
The grant of NOC by GCZMA was in gross violation of the law and in excess of powers vested in this authority which is meant to protect the environment, he said, adding the indictment coming from the apex appraisal body of MoEFCC that even raised questions on the CRZ permission granted by GCZMA stating that 'permissibility of the project/activity in terms of the CRZ Notification 2011 was not justified' calls for urgent introspection by GCZMA and its nonchalant way of functioning.
O n July 11, 2016 the environmental public hearing for expansion projects was held at Jai Kisaan Club. During the hearing concerned citizens and environmental activists had voiced their protests objecting to the public hearing stating that besides very few locals all the others present for the public hearing and are supporting the project were ZACL employees. However, the hearing was held amidst protest and environmental activists raised their objections pointing at several contradictory and confusing facts mentioned in the EIA report. Some even pointed out that the project area falls within CRZ area and no new industries or expansion of existing industries is permitted within 200 - 500 meters of HTL, as stated under CRZ Notification 2011. It was also pointed out by the members of public that the EIA report had not incorporated adequate living conditions for construction labour among other issues. Later, the matter was placed before EAC (Industry-2) at its meeting and the committee deferred its decision on the company’s proposal. EAC also raised questions on the CRZ permission granted by GCZMA stating that 'permissibility of the project/activity in terms of the CRZ Notification 2011 was not justified'. EAC also directed the project proponent to resubmit the proposal along with GCZMA approval for the expansion; earmark green belt covering 33 per cent of total project area; reduce fresh water requirement; STP for labour colony; prohibition on drawing ground water; submission of year-wise CSR plans @ 2.5 per cent for next five years; stop discharge of waste water into the sea through underground pipeline and rework on drift losses from cooling tower and reduction to 20 per cent. Some months later, in September 20 2017, EAC (Industry-2) in a meeting held in New Delhi, again deferred the decision on environmental clearance for the proposed expansion plans by ZACL. Finally, proposal came up before the EAC (Industry 2) at its meeting held on April 25, 2018 and the proposal was turned down. ZACL is now left with the only option of approaching NGT or the Supreme Court.
ZACL to submit fresh plan
Z ACL PRO Anand Rajadyaksha claimed that the EAC has turned down the proposal citing that some one or two parts of the project lies in between 200 m-500 m from the HTL classified as CRZ-III. However, ZACL will redesign the plan and the same will be placed again before EAC. “We will make changes in the plan as one or two component of the project lies in between 200 m-500 m. Since we have got enough land to shift these components of the project we will make a fresh plan and the same will be submitted before EAC for its recommendation,” Rajadyaksha said.