Priyanka Kakodkar, Times News Network, June 3 2017
Even as the state government is trying to fast-track clearances for the ambitious Vadhavan port project in Dahanu, the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) has directed that no work on the project can take place without seeking its permission.
JNPT has yet to begin work on the port. It was in the process of conducting surveys to prepare a project report on the feasibility of the port. After the order, the state has said that even these will be halted.
Dahanu taluka located 140 km from Mumbai is an eco-sensitive zone. The DTEPA headed by retired high court judge C S Dharmadhikari was set up in 1996 to protect the ecologically fragile area.
“Hon Chairman of the DTEPA has directed that JNPT should not proceed with the development of the port without obtaining necessary permission from the DTEPA,” says the directive delivered on May 30. TOI has a copy of the minutes of the meeting conducted by the authority.
In November 2016, the state had written to the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) asking for the port to be excluded from the eco-sensitive zone, saying it is a foreshore facility. The DTEPA stand has come before the MoEF has responded on the issue. The DTEPA has pointed out that it had rejected the proposal for the port in 1998. “It is the legal responsibility of all concerned actors and agencies to maintain the status quo. Any suo motu action taken without consulting the authority or any interventions on the ground without prior permission from the authority cannot be considered legal,” says the DTEPA’s directive.
It has also asked JNPT to submit a detailed project report, map of the Vadhavan port and other details to the DTEPA.
The DTEPA objected to its authority being bypassed. “It would have been prudent on the part of all departments and agencies related to the newly proposed Vadhavan port to approach the authority and in consultation plan the baseline investigations and feasibility study,” the DTEPA has said.