Adani projects: Eating into the sea?

Mundra (Gujarat): The ports and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) being constructed by the Adani Group in Gujarat's Mundra is under the Environment Ministry's scanner after allegations that illegal construction in these have illegally reclaimed the fragile seashore.

The Gulf of Kutch is often described as the Gulf of Miracles because of its shallow waters, mudflats, and intertidal zones that stretch several kilometres into the sea. And the Adanis are accused of illegally reclaiming the land here.

Based on the complaint of an NGO, representing the fishermen from Kutch, the Union Environment Ministry has already slapped a showcause notice on the Adanis' project for destroying mangroves and blocking creeks.

Now the same NGO has dug up maps the Adani Group submitted as part of its environment assessment report to the ministry and used in public hearings to convince locals about the project.

These maps show that after construction on their first port began in 1998, the high tide line in this stretch receded 10 kilometres into the sea.

In 2010, when the port work was going on full scale and the SEZ permissions were being sought, another National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) map shows the high-tide line had shifted even further.

"The high tide line was 10 kilometres inside from here. But they gradually filled up the entire area, reclaimed the land and the line shifted by 10 kilometres. Their biggest wrongdoing is that they have changed the Coastal Regulation Zone line and developed in the Coastal Regulation Zone without permissions," said Bharat Patel, the complainant and an environmentalist.

But the Adani Group has challenged these allegations saying the work carried out at Mundra is in compliance with clearances.

"The work carried out at Mundra is in compliance with clearances. We disagree with the allegations made," said Devendra Amin, spokesperson, Adani Group.

But environmentalists say a huge damage is done: With the high-tide line, currents have shifted that could now be eroding another stretch of the coast.