In a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India (with copies to the Gujarat chief secretary, Gujarat principal secretary, urban development and urban housing, Gujarat Principal Secretary, Forest and Environment Department, the Collector, Vadodara, the Vadodara Municipal Commissioner, and the Chairman, Vadodara Urban Development Authority), 30 prominent citizens* have sought immediate halt to all activities within the area of the Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Project (VRDP).,
The letter says that no work, including demolition, dredging, digging, filling, levelling, construction, etc., should be carried out till due process of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Clearance is accomplished. Text:
The letter dated 20th January 2016 sent by Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to us makes it clear that except VMC, no other authorities have responded either intentionally or due to willful negligence to pressing public issues raised in our letter, dated 28 December 2016 that calls for immediately stopping all activities of the ‘Vishwamitri Riverfront Development Project’ including the illegal filling, dumping, dredging, and any kind of construction activities in and along the Vishwamitri river and the river banks until due process of ‘Environment Impact Assessment’ (EIA) and ‘Environmental Clearance’ is accomplished.
Now, to bring to full knowledge and notice of you that, at present, the following work / works / acts and activities are still ongoing and continuing in the VRDP project area and all such work / works / acts and activities are in violation of the EIA Notification dated 14 September 2006:
- Construction of bridge from Sama area to Harni area.
- Construction of retaining wall along the Sama – Savli road on the edge of Sama Talav.
- Construction activity near Sanjay Nagar – Mangal Pandey Road including retention wall work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
- Demolition of Historical sites and features in Sanjay Nagar area.
- Untreated Sewer discharge behind Ratri bazaar, opposite VUDA office work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
- Levelling and preparing land for construction project near Narhari hospital work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
- Dumping near Kala Ghoda area and Sewer discharge near Kala Ghoda work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
- Construction work / works / acts and activities are continuing near and besides Bhimnath Bridge.
- Bhimnath Talav filling work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
- Debris dumping along the river bank near Vadsar and bridge construction work / works / acts and activities are continuing.
All the above referred areas are well within VRDP area.
All the above mentioned locations are part and parcel of the VRDP project. Therefore, these work / works / acts and activities are in complete violation of Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, The Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and also in complete violation of Expression of Interest for EIA published in Local Newspaper of Vadodara dated 1 December 2014.
Now, with all these and many such area/areas in which such work / works / acts and activities are still continuing and ongoing in VRDP area, we urge the Municipal Commissioner of VMC and you in connection and in continuation to our letter dated 28th December 2015 issued to you all that, to immediately direct any/all concerned departments/authorities/parties that come within the purview of the VRDP Project area, whether VMC or Private or Public or Contractual as per various tenders including projects being undertaken in the name of Private Public Partnership (PPP), to stop all ongoing activities including demolition, dredging, digging, filling, levelling, construction, etc. within the project area of VRDP with immediate effect, until due process of ‘Environment Impact Assessment’ (EIA) and ‘Environmental Clearance’ is accomplished.
Not doing so is in violation of the environmental laws and you above all concerned authorities may have to face legal action.
We are looking forward to your response and immediate action to protect and nurture the environment.
*Signatories include Rohit Prajapati, Engineer, Researcher, Writer and Environment Activist; Nakul Pradhan, Advocate; Dr Shishir Raval, Landscape Architect, Ecological Planner (Natural Resource Management), Architect; Neha Sarwate, Architect and Environmental and Urban Planner; Smita Pradhan, Member, Wildlife Advisory Board, Gujarat and Ex-Director, WWF-India, Gujarat; Sonia Nair, Landscape Architect and Architect; Surekha Sule, Development Journalist and Researcher; Krishnakant, Environment Activist; Anand Mazgaonkar, Environment Activist; Swati Desai, Social Activist, Co-Editor of ‘Bhumiputra’ Magazine, Wildlife Expert; and Trupti Shah, Economist, Writer & Researcher