VISAKHAPATNAM: Former Union Energy Secretary EAS Sarma has urged the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change and the State government to reconsider the decision to go ahead with the Bhavanapadu Port project in view of the numerous concerns, including socio, economic and environmental issues.
In a letter addressed to the Union Secretary of MEFCC and the State Chief Secretary, he said there was enough scientific evidence to prove that the coastline near the Bhavanapadu Creek was subject to intense sea erosion. Construction of a port at that location was likely to impact the adjacent coastal stretch adversely. Moreover, investing public funds on a port at such a fragile location will not be prudent from the financial point of view. Besides the Bhavanapadu Creek mouth is an ecosystem harbouring rich and vulnerable species, he said.
In the case of Bhavanapadu Port, the government has unilaterally taken a decision to construct the project near Bhavanapadu without complying with the statutory requirements. The decision taken is prima facie illegal and any land acquisition proceedings taken up on that basis will have no legal validity, he observed.
The AP government recently announced its decision to set up a sea port at Bhavanapadu in Srikakulam district and the AP Maritime Board (APMB) will be the promoter of the project. It will create the infrastructure facilities in the first phase over 500 acres to be acquired for setting up three general cargo and one bulk cargo berths and there will be subsequent phases in which more land may be acquired.
Sarma said there was no indication about the extent of land acquisition for the subsequent phases of expansion. It is appropriate that both SIA (social impact assessment) and EIA (environment impact assessment) are conducted for all the phases together so that the cumulative impact of the project on the local communities and the local environment is assessed and the public may have the opportunity to express their views as envisaged in the 2013 Land Acquisition Act as well as in the Environment Protection Act. He said the 2013 Land Acquisition Act requires total transparency at all stages.
Sarma said according to a research paper, the beach along the Bhavanapadu coast is under severe erosion. So continuous time series and event-related field data are required to study erosion and accretion cycle for the conservation and management purposes, he added.