More opposition to Nayara public hearing plans

Vol 23, PW 18 (16 Jul 20) Midstream & Downstream

Nayara Energy's expansion and diversification plan for its 20m t/y Vadinar refinery faces possible further delays after activists complained about the timing of the public hearing.

On July 6, Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra (Environment Friend), an Ahmedabad-based environmental group, wrote to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani with a demand to postpone Nayara's proposed public hearing scheduled by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board on July 28 and July 29. Pandya argues that new guidelines from the Gujarat home ministry on June 30 to ease the lockdown bans cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and other similar places that attract large gatherings.

Stringent restrictions are also in force on social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious events and other large groups. "On what basis has GPCB announced the public hearings?" asks Pandya, speaking to this report.

"Why is the Gujarat government breaking its own rules?" Under the rules, only 20 people are allowed to attend a funeral and only 50 a marriage. "In my experience, public hearings attract 50 to 5000 people," adds Pandya.

"You can't stop people attending a public hearing. "How will GPCB manage if more than 50 people come to attend the hearings?" Contacted by this report, GPCB regional officer at Jamnagar BG Sutreja responded by saying the public hearing would be conducted with strict social distancing and in batches of 50.