Despite protests AFCONS shipyard goes ahead

Vol 19, PW 25 (25 Aug 16) Midstream & Downstream

After vocal protests from angry villagers, AFCONS has finally backed down and commissioned a fresh EIA report on its proposed Rs169.5cr ($26m) shipyard at Katpar on Gujarat's Bhavnagar seacoast.

AFCONS is expecting a fresh draft EIA report to be submitted by Chennai-based Indomer Coastal Hydraulics by October. Indomer also prepared the EIA for Mumbai-based Swan for its proposed FSRU at Pipavav.

"We now only hope the Gujarat Pollution Control Board does not ask for more corrections in the draft EIA," says an AFCONS source. Surat-based Eco Chem prepared the previous EIA report which was subjected to vocal protests from farmers at a public hearing held on July 3, 2015 at Katpar village.

Dr Kanu Kalsariya, a former BJP Member of the Legislative Assembly now with the Aam Aadmi Party, led the villagers in alleging that important facts were suppressed in the report. Next the Gujarat Pollution Control Board ordered AFCONS to scrap the EIA and get a new environmental study done by the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

But AFCONS balked after NIO quoted Rs40 lakhs ($60,000). In the end it hired Chennai-based Indomer Coastal Hydraulics.

This is quite a turnaround - AFCONs had earlier threatened to quit Gujarat following a violent demonstration at the project site by 200 angry villagers in September 2015. "But the project is back on," says AFCONS.

"We're working on it."