Nirma Cement plant fails expert test, Jairam Ramesh likely to cancel nod

The 1.9 million tonne cement plant and captive power plant being set up by Nirma near the Coast in Gujarat is likely to be forced to relocate after the environment ministry’s expert committee upheld the findings of a small expert fact-finding mission.

In its recommendations — published by the environment ministry a few hours ago — the Expert Appraisal Committee, which recommends whether or not a project should be approved or not, urged that the project be relocated.

“No fresh water sanctuary needs to be razed to pitch a cement plant therein. The approval (already given) may be revoked as it was initially founded on undisclosed and incorrect postulates,” the body recommended to Jairam Ramesh, minister for environment and forests.

The move came after an expert, CR Babu, did a spot check and found that the area in which the cement plant is being constructed is a water body which has considerable animal and plant life associated with it.

The cement plant would generate pollution and “strain the environment,” he told the Committee.

“The ecology of the water body, aquatic flora and fauna will suffer,” he noted in his submission on the project.

Nirma, however, wanted the entire report of Prof Babu to be made public, but was refused by the ministry.

The Government of Gujarat also tried to intervene on the side of Nirma, pointing out that the fresh water body has been formed only in the last ten years after a sea-water dyke was put up in the area by the state government.

Technically, Gujarat told the Committee, the area is classified under waste-land and not as a water body or a fresh water wet land.

Jairam Ramesh has come under increasing criticism of late for having to pass several projects after initially opposing them on environmental grounds.