Gujarat is taking up massive project in ecosensitive zone in the middle of the river without impact assessments or legally mandatory clearances

Letters have been sent by some eminent citizens and activists of Gujarat to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Gujarat Environment Impact Assessment Authority that the massive Gujarat Project of setting up world’s tallest statue is being taken up by the Gujarat government without social or environmental impact assessment, without necessary public consultation process and without clearance under the Environment Protection Act 1986, Environment Impact Assessment of 2006 and also wildlife protection Act of 1972. The necessary permission from the Environment and Rehabilitation Subgroups of the Narmada Control Authority has also not been taken, nor have the party states been taken into account. The Tourism project involves massive constructions in the middle of the eco-sensitive river, just 3.2 km downstream from the Sardar Sarovar Dam and Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary. Given below is the letter to sent to the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Mrs Jayanti Natarajan and secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Similar letter has gone to Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources since he is the ex-officio chairman of the Narmada Control Authority. Another letter has gone to the Gujarat state EIA authority and concerned state government agencies.

Considering the importance of this issue, SANDRP is happy to share it on our blog, SANDRP Coordinator is also a signatory to the letter.

7 November 2013

To,

Dr V. Rajagopalan

The Secretary

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Government of India

Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,

New Delhi – 110 003.

Sub:  To seek detailed environmental scrutiny of project called ‘Statue of Unity’ planned inside Narmada River, 3.2 Kms. downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary by a joint venture of Government of Gujarat and a trust – ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’ (SVPRET) and to immediately stop all construction activity in the region.

Dear Sir,

We would like to bring to your attention that work on a project that proposes to build the world’s largest statue in the form of ‘Statue of Unity’ near Sardar Sarovar Dam in the river downstream from the dam, just 3.2 km from the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary, in eco-sensitive zone and involving massive infrastructure (see annexure) has started work without legally mandatory environment clearance, environment and social impact assessment or any public consultation process.

This is clearly illegal, in violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification of September 2006 and a number of NGT and Court orders about such massive kind of construction on the riverbed. On 31 October 2013, the foundation stone was laid for the project amidst huge fanfare and media attention. Tenders have also been floated. Even the work for the Garudeshwar weir, proposed about 12 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, began without any social or environmental impact assessment, public consultation and environmental clearance from the Environmental Sub Group (ESG) of Narmada Control Authority’s (NCA).

The website http://www.statueofunity.in/ clearly state the purpose of tourism and involvement of the ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’ (SVPRET) to build ‘Statue of Unity’,  3.2 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam  inside the Narmada River on an islet called Sadhu bet.

The website (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.N9z6EHIu.dpuf) says:

“A 13km. long water body (pond) will create an excellent tourist spot with available infrastructure on both the banks.

The Statue of Unity is planned to be erected in the river bed on downstream of the main dam in the Garudeshwar Weir pond. A permanent standing water pool in and around the Statue of Unity will be created by Garudeshwar Weir, which will enable boating activity around the statue.” (Emphasis added.)

The estimated cost of the project is more than Rs. 2,500/- corers (Rs 2063 crores is the cost of “DESIGN, ENGINEERING, PROCUREMENT CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE STATUE OF UNITY D/S of Sardar Sarovar Dam, Village Kevadia Ta. Nandod, District of Narmada Gujarat State, India” as per tender notice, see: http://www.statueofunity.in/tendernotice.html). The Government of Gujarat website (http://www.statueofunity.in/) clearly state that “A monument, that will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas” and will involve huge infrastructure as described in the Annexure downloaded from the official website.

The key issues that beg immediate scrutiny is as follows:

(1)   The project clearly needs environment clearance under the EIA notification of September 2006, but has not applied for or obtained the clearance at any stage.

(2)   The Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary boundary is touching the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir (as a part of the Environmental Protection measures of the Sardar Sarovar Project, the earlier Dhumkal Sloth Bear Sanctuary was extended to meet the reservoir boundaries and is called Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.) Since the statute is only 3.2 kms from the Sardar Sarovar Dam, it is certainly near by Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.

(3)   The Project involves construction in the river bed and proposed reservoir, close to sanctuary in eco-sensitive zone, and hence will have serious impacts on the ecology and environment. Hence, and EIA and EC is crucial.

(4)   The project will affect the downstream river, its biodiversity, people and livelihoods and other related aspects.

(5)   A comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the ‘Statue of Unity’ and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area has not been done.

(6)   The project also needs public consultation, but none has happened so far.

(7)   During the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam due to hard rock digging, the seismic area already carries the burden of artificial activity in the bed rock and added load in what is deemed geologically fault line area. Public reports on geotechnical and geological studies on the proposed site have raised issues of structural stability as well as safety. This cannot be taken casually by authorities. The seismic hazard analysis claimed to have been done by the Gujarat Government’s in-house “Institute of Seismological Research” (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.jEBrofSN.dpuf) or the Geological and Geotechnical investigation commissioned to another government institute WAPCOS cannot be considered credible unless peer reviewed and put in public domain.

In view of the above facts on record, we demand that:

  1. Direct the Government of Gujarat to submit application for environment clearance and till that is obtained, not to do any work related to the project.
  2. Direct the Government of Gujarat to immediately stop planned project called ‘Statue of Unity’ and direct them to stop all other activities related to the ‘Statue of Unity’.
  3. Declare the action – of the foundation stone installation on 31 October 2013 for the project called ‘Statue of Unity’ – of the Chief Minister of Gujarat State as illegal, in violation of the EIA notification of September 2006 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

We will look forward to your urgent action and also point wise response.

Yours Sincerely,

Rohit Prajapati

[Rohit Prajapati] (rohit.prajapati@gmail.com)

Girish Patel

[Girish Patel] (girishpatel512@gmail.com)

Himanshu Thakkar

[Himanshu Thakkar] (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

Nandini Oza

[Nandini Oza] (nandinikoza@gmail.com)

Trupti Shah

[Trupti Shah] (trupti.vadodara@gmail.com)

Shripad Dharmadhikary

[Shripad Dharmadhikary] (manthan.shripad@gmail.com)

Lakhan Musafir

[Lakhan Musafir]

Chinu Srinivasan

[S. Srinivasan] (chinusrinivasan.x@gmail.com)

Persis Ginwalla

[Persis Ginwalla] (persis_ginwalla@yahoo.co.in)

Prasad Chacko

[Prasad Chacko] (prasad.chacko@gmail.com)

Rajni Dave

[Rajni Dave] (rajnidave@gmail.com)

Anand Mazgaonkar

[Anand Mazgaonkar] (anandpss@gmail.com)

Swati Desai

[Swati Desai] (swati43@gmail.com)

Krishnakant

[Krishnakant] (tokrishnakant@gmail.com)

Xavier Manjooran

[Xavier Manjooran] (rsss.narmada@gmail.com)

Ghanshyam Shah

[Ghanshyam Shah] (ghanshyam.shah2008@gmail.com)

Mahesh Pandya

[Mahesh Pandya] (paryavaranmitra@yahoo.com)

Saroop Dhruv

[Saroop Dhruv] (saroop_dhruv@yahoo.co.in)

Hiren Gandhi

[Hiren Gandhi] (darshan.org@gmail.com)

Ishwarbhai Prajapati

[Ishwarbhai Prajapati] (iaprajapati@yahoo.com)

Raju Deepti

[Raju Deepti] (jeevantirth@gmail.com)

Deepti Raju

[Deepti Raju] (jeevantirth@hotmail.com)

Amrish Brahmbhatt

[Amrish Brahmbhatt] (amrishdipti23@gmail.com)

Copy to:

The Chief Minister of Gujarat

Government of Gujarat

3rd Floor, Swarnim Sankul-1, New Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar-382 010.

The Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat

1st Block, 3rd Floor, Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar.

The Principal Secretary, Forest & Environment Department

Government of Gujarat

14th Block, 8th Floor, Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar.

The Member Secretary

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust

1st Floor, Block No 12, New Sachivalaya Complex, Gandhinagar – 382 010

Annexure:

Features of the project as per the following links:

http://www.statueofunity.in/statue-of-unity-project-features.html#sthash.9PLgSpZw.dpuf

Stepping UP TO BUILD HIGH. Stepping ahead to THE FUTURE.

The Statue of Unity will be a naturalistic and historically accurate representation of Sardar wearing characteristic garments in a walking pose.

  • The rich bronze cladding on the Statue gives it a marvelous look
  • World’s fastest elevators to keep the visitor’s tour engaging
  • The public three-level base of the Statue – exhibit floor, mezzanine and roof – contains the Memorial Garden and a large continuous exhibit hall that will be developed as a visitor attraction focusing on the contributions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • The observation deck at 500ft can accommodate 200 people at a time. The panoramic view from this level will enable visitors to see the beautiful Satpuda & Vindhyachal mountain ranges, the 256kms long Sardar Sarovar Reservoir and the 12kms long Garudeshwar Reservoir
  • Access to the statue is via boat ride (3.5kms)
  • An elaborate Gallery for a massive panoramic view of the World’s largest irrigation dam, the river and the hilly terrain, and an illustrious sight of Arabian Sea
  • A state-of-the-art Underwater Aquarium
  • A large modern canopied public plaza, overlooking the river and the Statue, will have scrumptious food stalls, ornate gift shops, retail kiosks and other visitor amenities

The project would include:

Museum & Audio Visual Gallery:

The Statue of Unity Project will also include a unique museum and audio-visual department depicting the life and times of Sardar Vallabhbai Patel.

  

A Laser, Light and Sound show:

A Laser, Light and Sound show on the efforts of Unification of India.

 

Research Centre:

A research centre dedicated to the research and development of subjects close to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s heart like Good Governance and Agriculture Development. Here, subjects like Water Management and Tribal Development will also be studied and researched.

A Monumental Lift:

A heavy-load open lift with a panoramic view will be built alongside the Statue of Unity. Visitors will be able to rise up to the height of the structure’s head, walk into a viewing gallery and enjoy a panoramic view of the Sardar Sarovar Nigam project and the surrounding region from an astounding height of close to 400ft.

Hospitality & Entertainment:

Refreshment areas like restaurants and recreational spots to make the project area an attractive tourist spot, thus facilitating tourism and employment for the surrounding tribal region.

 

Ferry Services :

The statue and surrounding area will be accessed by special boats to avoid vehicular traffic and pollution

Sardar Patel brought the nation together and this tribute, the Statue of Unity, will bring the country national pride. Plans will be laid for convention and training centres, development and formulation of tourism plan and provision of technical and managerial assistance for bids to invite EPC contract.

 

http://www.statueofunity.in/project-objectives.html#sthash.zDluhmBy.dpuf

PROJECT OBJECTIVES INCLUDE:

  • The project site will be connected with modern connectivity infrastructure such as expressways, improved rail system and helipads
  • Through scientific area planning, clean industries will be located around the project site
  • Research facilities in the area of biotechnology, clean energy and ethnic crafts will generate white collar jobs in this area
  • Location and development of educational institutions in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, pisciculture will generate an educational and skill development complex to support economic activity in the region
  • Development of tourism infrastructure to support MICE – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions; which will generate huge livelihood opportunities for the local tribal population

For Further Details: http://www.statueofunity.in/projectteams.html

For Project Organisation: http://www.statueofunity.in/organization.html

MEDIA COVERAGE:
1. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/modis-pet-sardar-patel-statue-project-yet-to-get-green-panel-go-ahead/433235-3-238.html

2. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/gujarat-s-bid-to-build-patel-s-statue-faces-green-hurdle/article1-1148435.aspx

3. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/activists-want-eia-done-on-patel-statue/article5333296.ece

4. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/sardar-patel-statue-project-has-no-green-clearance-activists

5. http://www.counterview.net/2013/11/prominent-citizens-of-gujarat-ask.html

6. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sardar-vallabhbhai-patel-memorial-foundation-stone-laid-without-environment-nod-bharatsinh-solanki-1918618

7. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-11-18/news/44202293_1_environment-ministry-narendra-modi-unity-project

8. http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/a-statue-and-its-cost/article5389185.ece#test

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