Green hurdle to Bengals Nayachar hub plan

Written by Indranil Chakraborty | Kolkata, Oct 26 | Updated: Oct 27 2007, 05:24am hrs
The West Bengal governments plan to include the riverine island of Nayachar off Haldia in the proposed chemical hub is unlikely to get the clearance of the Union ministry of environment & forests unless the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 1991 is modified.

After the violent opposition at Nandigram, which was originally proposed as part of the hub, the state had decided to build the hub around the existing petrochemicals facilities at Haldia. To ensure the minimum area requirement, it had then proposed to include Nayachar, a 47sq km natural island formed out of silt from the Hooghly river.

The Union ministry of environment and forests, responding to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a non-governmental organisation, has said the Nayachar island falls within the CRZ are and is classified as CRZ-I and CRZ-III, in line with the CRZ Notification of 1991.

The ministry has said, going by the CRZ notification, only certain listed activities like pipelines, conveying systems and storage of products are permissible.

However, the ministry has said, In the coastal regulation zone area setting up of industries/expansion of existing industries is a prohibited activity.

A Senthil Vel, additional director to the ministry, has informed the RTI applicant, Santanu Chacraveri of NGO Disha, that till now it has not received any proposal for setting up of petrochemical or any other chemical industry in Nayachar Island.

Pranabesh Sanyal, one of the four permanent central members of the National Coastal Regulation Authority, said he was not aware Nayachar falls under Zone III.

Sanyal, who along with six other specialists from various fields working on the feasibility study to determine whether there can be any industry in Nayachar under the Jadavpur University initiative, said their report would be ready in the next 15 days.

I believe that if the chemical hub has to come up in Nayachar, the zone classification has to be changed from I to IV after a proper carrying-capacity study, said Sanyal. We are looking at all the aspects and will submit our report soon, he added.

CRZ is an area between the high tide and low tide zone, plus the maximum area demarcated beyond the highest high tide zone. Under CRZ-V, industry can come up in the area beyond 200 metres of the highest high tide line, which in case of CRZ-I is 500 metres.

Chacraverti is of the opinion that Nayachar should come under CRZ-I. If some one says that the zoning can be changed then one has to establish why the earlier zoning of Nayachar was wrong, he said.