We will not allow diversion of water: Jairam Ramesh

A wildlife committee headed by Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh issued four rejections and two postponements to industry proposals on Monday.

The proposal to build a port at Poshitra in the Jamnagar district of Gujarat was among the proposals rejected by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wild Life at its meeting. The proposed project site lies within the Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park, an ecologically fragile region rich in marine biodiversity.

Cement plant

The committee also rejected the Ambuja Cement proposal to lay a pipeline to withdraw water from the Majthal wildlife sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh for a cement plant expansion project. The committee noted that while it appreciated the water needs of the local people, it could not permit the withdrawal of water for commercial purposes, in violation of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

This could spell trouble for the Adani group's proposal to draw water from the Pench Tiger Reserve for its coal thermal power project in Madhya Pradesh. Speaking on the sidelines of a function on Tuesday, the Minister pointed to the Ambuja case while warning that the Adani proposal was unlikely to be allowed.

“Though the company [Adani Power] is yet to approach us for environment clearance, we are clear that we will not allow diversion of water from the protected areas to any commercial use,” said Mr. Ramesh.

Mining projects

The committee also rejected two mining projects in Goa as the proposals were near wildlife sanctuaries, noting the Supreme Court direction that no polluting activity should be carried out within 10 km of the boundaries of protected areas.

A proposal to carry out a 2-D seismic survey within the Narayan Sagar Sanctuary in Gujarat was also rejected.

In the case of proposals to reduce the area of the Kolleru Lake Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, and to divert some forest land from the National Chambal River Sanctuary in Rajasthan for lift irrigation and hydro power projects, the committee directed that further studies were necessary before a decision could be taken.

The rejections were based on ground realities and the need to protect the environment, said Mr. Ramesh.