Saturday, September 26, 2009

No new projects in coastal areas, river basins

No new projects in coastal areas, river basins
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, September 18, 2009

The environment ministry has decided not to allow any new projects in the coastal parts of India, river basins of Teesta and Ganga and ecological hotspot of Western Ghats, till damage caused by existing projects is assessed.

It is for the first time that the ministry has put a moratorium on construction of new projects and implementation of the pending projects in the environmentally sensitive areas.

“We have decided that no new projects in 24 critically polluted areas and major river basins and no new coastal ports will be allowed till we find out whether local environment can cope with the additional burden that will be caused by these projects,” Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

This means that work on four powers projects in Teesta river basin in Sikkim, National Thermal Power Corporation’s 600 MW plant in Lohari Nath Pala (Uttrakhand) and three power projects in Western Ghats (Karnataka) has been stopped.

Construction of at least seven new port projects has been stopped. No new industrial units are being allowed in polluted industrial areas like Vapi Akhileshwar in Gujarat, Tromboy in Maharashtra, Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Raichur in Karnataka.

The first protest came from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “The environment ministry’s decision of moratorium is unacceptable,” he said at a meeting in the Planning Commission. “The state economy thrives on ports, whose construction and expansion has been banned.”

The moratorium is likely to stay till end of November.

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