Herald: EAC GIVES ALL CLEAR FOR MOPA?

EAC GIVES ALL CLEAR FOR MOPA?

05 May 2019 05:04am IST
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05 May 2019 05:04am IST
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Almost a month after the stay on the Mopa Greenfield Airport Project, the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s Expert Appraisal Committee has cleared the fresh Environment clearance for the Rs 3250 cr project in North Goa. SURAJ NANDREKAR looks into the details of the EC and the fresh conditions laid by the EAC for the project

The Supreme Court vide its judgment dated 29th March, 2019, in the matter of Federation of Rainbow Warriors Vs Union of India &Ors. has inter-alia directed that EAC shall revisit the recommendations made by it for the grant of an EC for the Mopa airport project, including the conditions which it has formulated, having regard to the specific concerns which have been highlighted in this judgment.

The SC had said that the EAC shall carry out the exercise under above within a period of one month of the receipt of a certified copy of this order.

The court had also said that until the EAC carries out the fresh exercise as directed above, the EC granted by the MoEFCC on 28 October 2015 shall remain suspended.

“Upon reconsidering the matter in terms of the present directions, the EAC, if it allows the construction to proceed will impose such additional conditions which in its expert view will adequately protect the concerns about the terrestrial eco-systems noticed in this judgment,” the court had said.

Following this order, the EAC meeting was held on 23rd April, 2019, the project proponent submitted additional information and plans related to various concerns of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The additional information included updated Form-1 especially environmental sensitivity information that had been missed out in the earlier Form-

Following were the details of the April 23 meeting...

Summing up:

. The EAC observed that the earlier Form-1 did not give proper disclosure in respect of the details of forests on the land and nearby wet land as well as on the water bodies.

. The EAC took into account the supplementary report that has been submitted which takes into account the deficiency of disclosure and the same thing has been complied with in the supplementary report.

. In addition, it is also noticed that the mitigation measures in respect of the depletion of forest cover on the project land and water bodies have been taken into account. As against 54,176 trees, which have been felled on the project site based on earlier approvals given by competent authority, the project proponent is proposing to plant 5,50,000 trees (50,000 trees at the project site, 2,50,000 trees in the nearby villages supervised by the Biodiversity Board and 2,50,000 trees under the supervision of DGCA.

.

  This is 1:10 times the number of trees affected as against the standard requirement of 1:3 times number of trees to be planted. The overall supervision of this compliance within the time frame of 5 years would be vested with DGCA. DGCA, however, needs to constitute a local monitoring committee for periodic monitoring of this vital exercise.

. The EAC noted that neither the project site nor the villages in area under study (primary data source) falls in any Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).

. The 10 villages in Maharashtra side fall in ESA not ESZ and where the impacts of the project would be minimal. The EAC also observed that the villages in vicinity of the project in the Goa and Maharashtra region are not located in very close proximity. The nearest village is about 4.1 km from the boundary of the project.

. The EAC also observed that beyond the runway of 3.75 km, the flight operation generally found at an altitude of about 1000 feet and thus there would not be any adverse impact on flora and fauna in the surrounding area of the airport.

. The EAC further observed that as per the supplementary report and the proposal of the water bodies with respect to observation regarding plateau effect of the land and also laterite surface and the springs, streams and water courses in the project land have been taken into account and appropriate drainage channels have been designed to take care of the water flows into the nearest water courses/rivers, etc.

. Appropriate storm water drainage channeling has been taken into account not only for the pre-monsoon season but also for monsoon and heavy rainfall.

. The EAC observed that in respect of the fauna, the primary data has been collected from one of the nearest village and the secondary data has been collected from ZSI. In respect of the observation of sighting leopard by villager, the authorities have indicated that they do not have any definitive information on the same and this need to be verified/authenticated.

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  It is a well-established fact of silvicultural science and practice that no plantation can replace the natural forest. The kind of biodiversity in any natural forest is almost impossible to be replaced by any kind of plantation activity which at the best can be a mix of various monocultures. We are still far away in our knowledge of replicating the creation of natural forest. Therefore, to this extent, the EAC does not agree with the assessment of proponent that after cutting of trees and planting of 1:10 trees, richer biodiversity the forest would be created.

. However, 1:10 plantation activity under expert guidance can to some extent compensate the loss of natural forest.

. With respect to the various points raised in the public hearing, the EAC observed that the supplementary report has made available point-wise clarifications on the various concerns on the public hearing. However, Hon’ble court shortlisted 14 items of concern in the public hearing. Solution/management plan to all these need to be clearly spelt out in the EMP and implemented in letter and spirit.

. After detailed deliberations/discussion on the submissions and additional information submitted by the project proponent, the EAC recommends Environmental Clearance to the project with additional environmental safeguards/conditions, over and above the specific and general conditions already stipulated in the EC letter dated 28th October, 2015, besides additional conditions imposed by Hon’ble NGT vide its order dated 21st August, 2018 in Appeal No. 05 of 2018 and Appeal No. 06 of 2018 in the matter of Federation of Rainbow Warriors, Margao Vs. Union of India & Ors.and Hanuman Laxman Aroskar & Anr. Vs. Union of India &Ors.

Statutory compliance:

(i)            The project proponent shall obtain certificate from Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of State through State Government that none of the area of the project falls in the notified Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ) and no activity prohibited in the Eco-sensitive zone will be taken up.

(ii)           The project proponent shall obtain Consent to Establish / Operate under the provisions of Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 from the concerned State Pollution Control Board/ Committee.

(iii)The project proponent shall obtain necessary permission from the competent authority for drawal of water from Tillari Irrigation Canal.

II. Air quality monitoring and preservation:

(i)            The project proponent shall install system to carryout Ambient Air Quality monitoring for common/criterion parameters relevant to the main pollutants released (e.g. PM10 and PM2.5 in reference to PM emission, and SO2 and NOx in reference to SO2 and NOx emissions) within and outside the airport area covering upwind and downwind directions.

(ii)           Implementation of Dust Mitigation Measures for Construction and Demolition Activities shall be complied with.

III. Water quality monitoring and preservation:

(i)            Appropriate drainage channels need to be designed to take care of the water flow into the nearest water courses/rivers, etc.

(ii)           It should be ensured that sustainable water flow in the various channels of watershed in the plateau is maintained.

(iii) Proper drainage systems, emergency containment in the event of a major spill during monsoon season etc. shall be provided.

(iv) The runoff from paved structures like Aprons can be routed through drains to oil separation tanks and sedimentation basins before being discharged into rainwater harvesting structures.

(v)          Run off from chemicals and other contaminants from aircraft maintenance and other areas within the airport shall be suitably contained and treated before disposal.

(vi) The project activity shall conform to the General Standards for Discharge of Environmental Pollutants notified in the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, and amended from time to time.

(vii) Rain water harvesting for roof run-off and surface run-off, as plan submitted should be implemented.

IV. Noise monitoring and prevention:

(i)            Notification G.S.R. 568(E) dated 18.06.2018 of MoEF&CC regarding Ambient Air Quality Standards with respect to Noise in Airport Noise Zone shall be complied with.

(ii)           Noise level survey shall be carried as per the prescribed guidelines.

(iii)          Noise from vehicles, power machinery and equipment on-site should not exceed the prescribed limit.

(iv)         Acoustic enclosures for DG sets, noise barriers for ground-run bays, ear plugs for operating personnel shall be implemented as mitigation measures for noise impact due to ground sources.

(v)          During airport operation period, noise should be controlled to ensure that it does not exceed the prescribed standards. During night time the noise levels measured at the boundary of the building shall be restricted to the permissible levels to comply with the prevalent regulations.

(vi)         Where construction activity is likely to cause noise nuisance to nearby residents, restrict it to only during day time i.e. between 7 am to 6 pm.

V. Energy Conservation/climate change measures:

(i)            Energy conservation measures like installation of LED should be integral part of the project design and should be in place before project commissioning.

(ii)           Initiatives such as Green Infrastructure Development program, adoption of less emission intensive technologies, renewable energy program, electrical vehicles and Airport Carbon Accreditation need to be adopted to reduce its impact on climate change and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as per environmental best practices governing greenfield airports.

VI. Waste management:

(i)            Soil stockpile shall be managed in such a manner that dust emission and sediment runoff are minimized. Ensure that soil stockpiles are designed with no slope greater than 2:1 (horizontal/vertical).

(ii)           The project activity shall conform to the Fly Ash notification issued under the E.P. Act of 1986.

(iii)          The solid wastes shall be segregated as per the norms of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. Recycling of wastes such as paper, glass, metal, plastics, wood, waste oil and solvents, kitchen wastes and vegetable oils shall be carried out.

(iv)         The project proponents shall implement a management plan duly approved by the State Pollution Control Board and obtain its permissions for the safe handling of waste.

VII. Green Belt:

(i)            Green belt shall be developed in area as provided in project details, with native tree species in accordance with Forest Department. The greenbelt shall inter-alia cover the entire periphery of the Air Port.

(ii)           The plantation species in and around Airport site should be carefully chosen to avoid bird nesting and to improve pollution control and noise control measures. Water intensive and/or invasive species should not be used for landscaping.

(iii)          The proposed 10 times compensatory plantation need to be monitored by the Government of Top soil shall be separately stored and used in the development of green belt.

VIII. Public hearing and Human health issues:

(i)            Solution/management plan regarding redressal of all the concerns raised in the public hearing must be clearly spelt out in the EMP and shall be implemented in letter and spirit.

(ii)           Provision of Electro-mechanical doors for toilets meant for disabled passengers shall be ensured.

(iii)          Occupational health surveillance of the workers shall be done on a regular basis.

IX. Additional Conditions to be incorporated as per Hon’ble NGT’s order dated 21st August, 2018:

A.            Air Environment

1.            It would be appropriate if the Project Proponent establishes real time online continuous Air Quality Monitoring Station also which is connected to CPCB server and capable of monitoring all relevant and critical parameters and mitigation measures taken.

2.            Although all parameters w.r.t ambient air parameters have been found to be within limits for all 6 (six) locations monitored, we feel for the purpose of giving/depicting holistic picture with regard to ambient air in the area, at least

3              (three) more locations falling in the State of Maharashtra be also monitored and documented.

B.            Water Environment

1.            Only two number of Rain Water Harvesting pits have been provided which we feel are not adequate and there is a need to place other pits at such locations so as to capture all the excess drainage for water re-charge.

2.            More frequent Water Quality Monitoring i.e. once every month may be carried out by Project Proponent at bore wells and STP discharge plants instead of 4 (four) times in a year as proposed.

E.            Biological Environment

1.            Efforts be made to transplant the trees to other locations in the same vicinity by using appropriate mechanical devices which are available these days.

2.            Efforts be made to plant indigenous species which are tall in size rather than small saplings.

3.            Concerns have been raised by appellants with regard to plant species ‘Dipcadi concanense’ which has been claimed to be a threatened plant. This claim of the appellants have been negated by the respondent by producing a documentation of Botanical Survey of India, Western Regional Centre, Pune, Maharashtra titled as “A Note on Occurrence and Distribution of Dipcadi concanense”. By invoking Precautionary Principle, we direct the Project Proponent to draw up a Conservancy by Plan/Scheme for ‘Dipcadi concanense’ in collaboration with Forest Department, State of Goa and Botanical Survey of India and ensure its implementation.

During the deliberation, the EAC noted the following:-

1.            The Committee noted that issues have satisfactorily been responded by the project proponent and incorporated in the final EIAEMP report. After deliberation, the Committee asked project proponent to submit the following:

(i)            Submit detailed traffic study report as prescribed in the ToR.

(ii)           Submit No Objection Certificate from Fire Department for the existing Airport.

(iii)          Submit details of waste water generation along with details of STP proposed to be installed in phase wise manner.

(iv)         Submit details of green belt development. In view of the foregoing observations, the EAC recommended to defer the proposal. The proposal shall be reconsidered after the above details are addressed and submitted.


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