Deferred public hearing on Gondkhairi not held, Kedar slams govt and MPCB

  • | Friday | 22nd September, 2023

Nagpur: Congress MLA from Saoner Sunil Kedar has slammed the three-party coalition government and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for not conducting a rehearing for Adani Power Maharashtra Limited (APML) underground coal mine at Gondkhairi.The public hearing on July 13, 2023, at Karli near the project site to seek environmental clearance was disrupted amid strong protests from villagers. The locals, opposing the mine, did not allow the hearing to continue.As the hearing was deferred by the MPCB, it was expected that a fresh public hearing would be conducted. But even after over two months it has not been held. Normally, if a public hearing is deferred it is held again after removing the flaws.In the case of Gondkhairi, people protested for two reasons — the detailed environment impact assessment (EIA) report was in English and not Marathi, and secondly, they didnt want the project.As per MoEFCC directions, it is mandatory to publish the EIA summary report in the states official language. APML officials produced the summary copy in Marathi.However, instead of calling a fresh hearing, the MPCB website shows the disrupted public hearing as normal but has not posted minutes of the hearing.The report of the entire public hearing has been sent to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) through the state government. The MoEEFCC will take a call. Generally, such hearings are held again only in case of law and order problems or natural calamities, Hema Deshpande, MPCB regional officer, said.MLA Kedar, who led the protest against the coal mine falling in his constituency, said, The state government has crushed a democratic protest of the people. Not taking another hearing shows the arrogance of the three-party government. They will pay a price for this in the next elections.There is no change in my stand against the coal mine. How can the hearing be complete when peoples views were not considered at all, Kedar asked.During the same public hearing, former minister Anil Deshmukh too had opposed the project and made a written submission to the MPCB. Deshmukh was unavailable for comments.The Vidarbha Environment Action Group (VEAG) convenor Sudhir Paliwal said that the proposed mining project falls in the Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) and an NOC from NMRDA is necessary.If the MPCB claims the public hearing was conducted, why is it not making the minutes of the meeting public on its website, asked Paliwal.

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