The Meena Gupta Committee formed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to look into forest rights and other issues involving Posco project, today visited the Jatadhari river mouth, site of the project’s proposed captive port, in its second trip to the state in less than one month.
Posco proposed to set up a captive port at Jatadhari river mouth, 10 km from Paradip port, on 500 acres of land. The port project with 16 berths had raised concern among the environmentalists, who alleged that it would violate the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and increase environmental pollution in the area.
The Central team led by former Union environment secretary Meena Gupta today interacted with Posco officials at Paradip before visiting Jatadhari river mouth to study the impact of the port on environment. The company officials explained to the team that the port had received CRZ (category-I) approvals in 2006.
The team, during its visit, also looked into other issues like safety of the shoreline, river creeks, mangrove forest and nestling ground of Olive Ridley turtles.
Environmentalist Shankhanad Behera presented a memorandum to the team highlighting the possible impact of the port on local environment, discharge of flood water and depletion of forest cover including mangroves.
He pointed out that dredging for the port would cause soil erosion due to which the sea water may ingress into habitats and agriculture land. He said, the port project would violate the provisions of CRZ which bars any construction within 500 meters of High Tide zone.
Similarly, trade union leader, Bibhuti Panda, in his memorandum to the team, opposed the port at Jatadhari river mouth saying it would affect the business of nearby Paradip port.
Team leader, Gupta said, “The team visited Jatadhari River mouth to study the environmental issues involving the proposed captive port of Posco and also assess other problems. The final report would be submitted to MoEF by 30th September”.
The Committee also interacted with chairman, Paradeep Port Trust (PPT) Biplav Kumar on the infrastructure available at Paradip to meet the requirement of the Posco steel project if clearance is not given to the company for a captive port. The panel members, however, did not meet anyone from the district administration during the visit.