The Environment and Forests Ministry has slapped a Rs. 200 crore penalty on Gautam Adani’s Mundra multi-purpose projects for violating green laws. The money will go to an Environment Restoration Fund to mitigate the damage done to the area around the project sites.
The order was issued after the Ministry accepted the report of the committee set up under Ms. Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.
The five-member committee included officials from the Environment Ministry, experts on coastal ecosystems and disaster management. The Adani waterfront and power plant project had run into a controversy, with activists warning of an ecological impact that would see the destruction of fisherfolk’s livelihood. The expert panel was asked to look at complaints of environmental degradation and non-compliance with green regulations.
The Ministry’s orders portend more trouble than just a hefty restoration fund for the Adani business group, which is seen to be close to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Mundra projects will suffer suspension of parts of its projects and there will be detailed investigations in to lapses and violations. The environmental clearance given to one part of the project — the North Port — will be cancelled. The project developers have also been asked to build a harbour for the fisherfolk to help revive their lost source of livelihood.
The Narain committee had found that the company had damaged creeks and mangroves around its project site while securing clearances on a piece-meal basis circumventing mandatory regulations. The group companies manipulated and obfuscated data to get around coastal regulation rules.
The construction activity for its North Port had led to blocking and destruction of creeks. Seventy five hectares of mangroves, that were declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance granted to the company, had been destroyed.