Economy & Market
Setback for Nirma cement plant
In a victory for the farmers of Gujarat's Bhavnagar district, an expert committee (EC) formed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has recommended that the Nirma cement plant in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district be relocated. The Ministry accepted the report of an expert body of five scientists which visited the site and concluded that the land allotted to Nirma by the Gujarat government was a wetland, despite the revenue classification of the area as wasteland. It is a coastal saline natural ecosystem, which after the construction of a dyke or bandhara, has been converted into a freshwater ecosystem. Under the `Vibrant Gujarat' programme, the Narendra Modi government had allocated the land for the Rs 450 crore plant. The bandhara now prevents saltwater escaping to the surrounding fields, stores water used for irrigation during the dry season, and also helps recharge groundwater in the area. As such, it is considered a valuable common property resource by the local people, said the expert body. The polluting cement plant would harm this ecosystem, hurting both agriculture and the thriving biodiversity of the area, especially the thousands of birds, some globally endangered, which visit the wetlands. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia adjourned the matter giving the option to Nirma to challenge the Ministry before it or the Green Tribunal.