29 conditions stipulated in MoEF order

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has accorded environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to a Rs.5,000-crore deepwater container transshipment port to be set up at Vizhinjam, near here.

The Ministry granted the clearance to the project as per the provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006 and CRZ Notification 2011 and its subsequent amendments, subject to strict compliance with the terms and conditions.

As many as 29 specific conditions and 14 general conditions have been stipulated in the order issued by the Director (IA.III) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It has been officially communicated to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd.(VISL), the government entity overseeing the flagship project of the State.

Last month, the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry for projects relating to infrastructure development and Coastal Regulation Zone had recommended the accordance of environmental clearance for the project.

The expert committee had stipulated 17 conditions on the project proponent while recommending environmental clearance, and the Ministry has accepted them while giving the mandatory nod.

The VISL has been directed to obtain “Consent for Establishment” of the project from the State Pollution Control Board under the Air and Water Act, and a copy of the same should be submitted to the Ministry before the start of any construction work on the site.

It has been directed to carry out intensive monitoring of the shoreline changes that the construction of the port might lead to, and report the details to the Ministry every six months.

The dredged material should be used for the reclamation of berths. The project proponent should compensate, as per Union and State government norms, the owners of the tourist resorts in the project area who would have to be evicted.

The project should be executed in such a manner as to cause minimum disturbance to fishing activity in the area.

The VISL has been asked to develop a new fish-landing centre, besides executing the commitments it had given in its proposal with respect to the detailed Resettlement Action Plan and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The CSR activities should cover 10 km radius of the project.

Rail connectivity should be parallel to the harbour road on elevated structures without affecting the entry to the existing harbour. The port should ensure that all ships under operation follow the MARPOL convention regarding discharge or spillage of any toxic, hazardous or polluting material. An Oil Contingency Management plan should be put in place.

The VISL has been asked to ensure the conditions of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority. A special tourism promotion package for the area has been suggested for implementation with the support of the State.

The Ministry has said that hazardous chemicals should not be stored in the CRZ area, and solid waste should not be disposed of there. The waste water generated should be collected, treated, and reused properly. The clearance for the project has come at a time when tenders have been floated for Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract and the private player who will operate the port.

VISL Managing Director (MD) and CEO Suresh Babu A.S. told The Hindu from New Delhi that efforts are on with the assistance of the Planning Commission and the State Planning Board to rope in global players for the ambitious project.

Mr. Babu said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking exemption from the cabotage laws.