The National Green Tribunal (NGT) disallowed a proposed thermal power plant at Nayachar in East Midnapore district owing to geomorphology of the island and lack of clearence from Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Eastern Bench of NGT, presided by Justice (retd) Pratap Kumar Ray and Prof P C Mishra, directed that the coal-based thermal power plant cannot come up on the riverine island owing to its geomorphology, i.e, topographical features. Located at the confluence of the Ganges and Haldi River, the 47sq km Nayachar Island is within 10km of Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve which is one of the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity.
The NGT bench also noted that the affidavits of Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) criteria prohibit any such construction within a specified distance from the waterline. The order declining permission for the plant was also based on an affidavit filed by Geological Survey of India (GSI). Universal Crescent Power, a private sector company, had in 2008 sent a proposal to West Bengal government to set up a coal-based thermal power plant on Nayachar island opposite Haldia port.
The state government had then signed an MoU with the company for setting up of the unit. Thirteen (13) fishermen’s cooperative society had filed a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking an order against setting up of the power plant claiming that it violated CRZ norms and that it would cause an environmental hazard. The matter was later transferred to the NGT which heard out the parties in the petition, according to the cooperative societies’ counsel Debamitra Bhardwaj.
The bench further ruled that the fishermen would be allowed to continue with their livelihood and Benfish, an apex body of all primary fishermen’s co-operative societies in the state, should take steps for continuation of Integrated Brackish Water Aqua Culture Development Project at Nayachar.
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