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Press Release- Stop all activities of the proposed “Statue of Unity Project”

PRESS RELEASE

 

  • The shocking and surprising information received by Rohit Prajapati from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) on 12 July 2014 to the RTI application about the  Project.
  • “સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ” અંગે રોહિત પ્રજાપતિને આરટીઆઇ અરજીમાં સરદાર સરોવર નર્મદા નિગમ લિ. (SSNL) દ્વારા 12 જુલાઇ,2014ના રોજ મળેલ આશ્ચર્ય અને આઘાતજનક હકીકતો.

 

  આર.ટી.આઈ. હેઠળ માંગેલ માહિતી સરદાર સરોવર નર્મદા નિગમ લિ.ના જવાબો
‘The ‘Statue of Unity Project’ involves construction in the Narmada river bed and proposed reservoir of Garudeshwar Weir, close to sanctuary in eco-sensitive zone, and hence will have serious impacts on the ecology and environment. Hence, the Environment Impact Assessment Report (EIA) and Environment Clearance (EC) are necessary. We want the copy of EIA and EC for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’માં નર્મદા નદીની અંદર અને ગરુડેશ્વર ખાતેના સૂચિત વિયર ડેમમાં બાંધકામનો સમાવેશ થાય છે. તે અભયારણ્યની પાસે પર્યાવરણીય સવેદનશીલ ઝોનમાં આવેલ છે અને ઇકોલોજિ અને પર્યાવરણ પર તેની ગભીર અસરો પડશે તેથી તેનો પર્યાવરણીય મૂલ્યાંકન અહેવાલ (EIA) તૈયાર કરવો અને પર્યાવરણીય મજૂરી(EC) મેળવવી જરૂરી છે. અમને સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટેના EIA અને ECની નકલ આપશો.

 

Environment Clearance is not required to obtain.

પર્યાવરણીય મજૂરી મેળવવી જરૂરી નથી.

 

 

A copy of the report of the comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ના પર્યાવરણીય અને સામાજિક અસરો અંગેના સર્વગ્રાહી મૂલ્યાંકનના અહેવાલની નકલ અને તેની આ વિસ્તારના તમામ પ્રોજેકટ તેમજ એક્ટિવિટી પરના સર્વગ્રાહી અસરનો અહેવાલ આપશો.

 

Environment Clearance is not required to obtain hence environmental and social Impact Assessment of the Statue of Unity Project and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area is not carried out.

પર્યાવરણીય મજૂરી મેળવવી જરૂરી નથી તેથી ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ના પર્યાવરણીય અને સામાજિક અસરો અંગેના સર્વગ્રાહી મૂલ્યાંકન અહેવાલ અને તેની આ વિસ્તારના તમામ પ્રોજેકટ તેમજ એક્ટિવિટી પરના સર્વગ્રાહી અસરનો અહેવાલ તૈયાર કરવામાં આવ્યો નથી.

Copies of the all the letters written to the concerned authorities & departments and replied received from the concerned authorities & department for the “Statue of Unity Project”.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટે સંબંધિત સત્તામંડળો અને ખાતાઓને લખેલ તમામ પત્રો અને તેમના મળેલ જવાબોની નકલ.

As the information sought is not clear, information is not given.

માંગવામાં આવેલ માહિતી સ્પષ્ટ ના હોવાથી આપેલ નથી.

 

 

 

Copies of the all the correspondent with the concerned departments and authorities for foundation stone installation on 31 October 2013 for the project called ‘Statue of Unity’ by the then Chief Minister of .

તા. 31 ઓક્ટોબર 2013ના રોજ તે સમયના મુખ્ય મંત્રી દ્વારા ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ના ખાત મુહર્ત માટે યોજેલ કાર્યક્રમ સંબંધિત સત્તામંડળો અને ખાતાઓને લખેલ તમામ પત્રો અને તેમના મળેલ જવાબોની નકલ.

Information is NIL.

જવાબ શૂન્ય છે.

 

Copy of the documents which shows the detail expenditure made under various head for the “Statue of Unity Project” for the 31 October 2013 program and other expenditure till date.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટે તા. 31 ઓક્ટોબર 2013ના કાર્યક્રમ તેમજ આજ દિન સુધી અલગ અલગ હેડ હેઠળ કરવામાં આવેલ  ખર્ચની વિગતો દર્શાવતા દસ્તાવેજોની નકલ.

 

The expenditure incurred under head for the “Statue of Unity” is Rs. 11,383/- for the 31st October 2013 programme (Annexure-1) while other expenditure till date are given as Annexure – II.  Rs. 27,63,24,829/- spent during 2011 to 2014. by ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’

તા. 31 ઓક્ટોબર 2013ના કાર્યક્રમ માટે   ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ના હેડમાં  Rs. 11,383/-નો ખર્ચ કરવામાં આવ્યો છે (Annexure-1) તેમજ આજ સુધી કરવામાં આવેલ ખર્ચAnnexure – II માં છે.  Rs. 27,63,24,829/ સરદાર વલ્લભભાઈ પટેલ રાષ્ટ્રીય એકતા ટ્રસ્ટ’ દ્વારા 2011 થી 2014 દરમ્યાન કરવામાં આવેલ છે.

Copies of minutes of all the meetings in which the decision for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ was taken.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ અંગેના નિર્ણયો લેવામાં આવ્યા હોય તેવી તમામ મિટિંગોની મિનિટ્સ

 

Transferred to The PIO and The Secretary (Narmada), Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar Department, Gandhinagar.

માહિતી અધિકારી, સેક્રેટરી (નર્મદા), નર્મદા વોટર રિસોર્સ,વોટર સપ્લાય એન્ડ કલ્પસર ડિપાર્ટમેંટને ટ્રાન્સફર કરવામાં આવેલ છે.

Copies of all the decisions, resolutions, notifications and letters issued for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટે લેવામાં આવેલ તમામ નિર્ણયો, ઠરાવો, નોટિફિકેશન અને પત્રોની નકલ

 

Transferred to The PIO and The Secretary (Narmada), Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar Department, Gandhinagar

માહિતી અધિકારી, સેક્રેટરી (નર્મદા), નર્મદા વોટર રિસોર્સ,વોટર સપ્લાય એન્ડ કલ્પસર ડિપાર્ટમેંટને ટ્રાન્સફર કરવામાં આવેલ છે.

 

  • આશ્ચર્ય અને આઘાતની વાત છે કે ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટે ગુજરાત સરકારે 2014-15 ના બજેટમાં રૂ. 500 કરોડ અને ભારત સરકારે પણ 2014-15 ના બજેટમાં રૂ. 200 કરોડ એવી ધારણાના આધારે ફાળવી દીઘા છે ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ માટે સંબંધિત સત્તામંડળ પાસે પર્યાવરણીય મંજૂરી લેવાની જરૂર નથી. –રોહિત પ્રજાપતિ, ગિરીશ પટેલ અને હિમાંશુ ઠક્કર
  • Surprisingly and shockingly, the Government of Gujarat had allocated Rs. 500 crores in the 2014-2015 budget and Government of India also had allocated Rs. 200 crores in the 2014-2015 budget for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ by presuming that the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ does not requires environment clearance from the concerned authorities. – Rohit Prajapati, Girish Patel & Himanshu Thakkar.
  • શ્રી પ્રકાશ જાવડેકર અને અન્યોને નોટિસ – નર્મદા નદીની અંદર, સરદાર સરોવર બંધથી 3.2 કી.મી. નીચેવાસમાં, શુલ્પાનેશ્વર અભયારણ્ય પાસે આયોજિત ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ની વિગતવાર પર્યાવરણીય ચકાસણીની માગણી.
  • ત્યાં સુધી ગુજરાત સરકાર અને સરદાર વલ્લભભાઈ પટેલ રાષ્ટ્રીય એકતા ટ્રસ્ટ’ના સંયુક્ત સાહસ ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ને લગતી તમામ ગતિવિધિઓ બંધ કરો. –રોહિત પ્રજાપતિ, ગિરીશ પટેલ અને હિમાંશુ ઠક્કર

Surprisingly, the office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat had no idea about the legality of the ‘Statue of Unity Project’. That is why they have not categorically responded to any of the issues raised in our letter dated 7 November 2013, instead they directed the Principal Secretary of Departments of Forest and Environment as well as the Additional Principal Secretary of Narmada, Water Resources, Water supply and Kalpsar Department of Government of Gujarat to reply to our queries. Till date, we have not received any response from these departments. Having laid the foundation stone for this ambitious project, it was expected from the Chief Minister of Gujarat to be abreast with all the details the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

આશ્ચર્યજનક રીતે ગુજરાતનાં મુખ્ય મંત્રી કાર્યાલયને ‘સ્ટેચ્યુ ઓફ યુનિટી પ્રોજેકટ’ની કાયદેસરતા અંગે કોઈજ માહિતી નથી. તેથીજ તેમણે અમારા તા. 7 નવેમ્બર 2013 ના પત્રમાં ઊઠવેલા સ્પષ્ટ મુદ્દાઓ અંગે કોઈ જવાબ ના આપતા તેને વન અને પર્યાવરણ ખાતાના પ્રિન્સિપલ સેક્રેટરી અને નર્મદા વોટર રિસોર્સ, વોટર સપ્લાય એન્ડ કલ્પસર ખાતાના એડિશનલ પ્રિન્સિપલ સેક્રેટરીને અમારા પ્રશ્નોનાં જવાબ આપવા માટે મોકલી આપ્યો. આ ખાતાઓ તરફથી અમને આજ દિન સુધી કોઈ જવાબ મળેલ નથી. આ મહત્વકાંક્ષી પ્રોજેક્ટના ખાત મુહર્ત કરનાર ગુજરાતનાં મુખ્ય મંત્રી તેની તમામ મહત્વની વિગતોથી વાકેફ હોય તેવી અપેક્ષા હતી.

 

For Correspondence: Rohit Prajapati, 37 Patrakar Colony, Tandalja Road, Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat

____________________________________________________________________

 

17 July 2014

To,

Mr. Prakash Javdekar

The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, New Delhi – 110 003

 

Dr V. Rajagopalan, The Secretary

Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, New Delhi – 110 003

 

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Government of Gujarat, Gandhinagar-382 010.

 

The Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, Gandhinagar.

 

The Additional Chief Secretary, Forest & Environment Department, Gandhinagar.

 

The Member Secretary, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust

 

Sub:  To seek detailed environmental scrutiny of project – the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ planned inside Narmada River, 3.2 Kms downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary by a joint venture of Government of Gujarat and ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’ (SVPRET) and to immediately stop all activities of the proposed “Statue of Unity Project”.

Reference: Our letter dated 7 Nov 2013 & reminder dated 5 Feb 2014.

Dear Sirs / Madam,

This is to once again remind you of our letter dated November 7, 2013 and our reminder dated 5 February 2014 sent to the Secretary of MoEF and copy to  the concerned authorities of Gujarat Government. In these letters we had called your attention to glaring gaps in meeting environmental, social and safeguard norms in the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ planned inside Narmada River, 3.2 kms downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.

Till date, we have received no response from your office on issue that concerns statutory social and environmental safeguards.

We had sought your authority to stop all activities related to this project in absence of necessary fulfilment of statutory requirements.

Instead, it appears now following some discussion between Government of Gujarat and Union of India, they might have taken the decision that the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ does not require environment clearance from the concerned authorities, which is reflected in recent budget of Government of Gujarat and Union of India.

Surprisingly and shockingly, the Government of Gujarat had allocated Rs. 500 crores in the 2014-2015 budget and Government of India also had allocated Rs. 200 crores in the 2014-2015 budget for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ by presuming that the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ does not requires environment clearance from the concerned authorities.

Having not received any response from the authorities, we were forced to file RTI applications to find out from the Government of Gujarat about environment safeguards fulfilled for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’. The reply which was expected from the Gujarat Government, instead came from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) to our RTI application dated 3 June 2014. Similar RTI application dated 3 June 2014 was sent to office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust. The PIO of Chief Minister of Gujarat forwarded the application to SSNNL and till date there is no response from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust.

Surprisingly, the office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat had no idea about the legality of the ‘Statue of Unity Project’. That is why they have not categorically responded to any of the issues raised in our letter dated 7 November 2013, instead they directed the Principal Secretary of Departments of Forest and Environment as well as the Additional Principal Secretary of Narmada, Water Resources, Water supply and Kalpsar Department of Government of Gujarat to reply to our queries. Till date, we have not received any response from these departments. Having laid the foundation stone for this ambitious project, it was expected from the Chief Minister of Gujarat to be abreast with all the details the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust kept quite on the issue for the best reasons known to them and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited which says that “Environment Clearance is not required.” The SSNNL had no idea about our RTI question number 6 (Copies of minutes of all the meetings in which the decision for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’ was taken.) & 7 (Copies of all the decisions, resolutions, notifications and letters issued for the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.) and that is why they might have forwarded RTI to the PIO and the Secretary (Narmada), Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar Department, 9th Block, 2nd Floor, Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar. But till date, we have not received any response from the PIO and the Secretary (Narmada), Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar Department.

This adds more and more confusion about the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

Our earlier letters asks for the detailed environmental scrutiny of project called ‘Statue of Unity’ from the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change but instead ministry had chosen to keep quite on the crucial issue raised by us.

We are once again summarising our objection about the ‘Statue of Unity Project’.

The work on a project that proposes to build the world’s highest statue in the form of ‘Statue of Unity’ near Sardar Sarovar Dam in the river downstream from the dam, just 3.2 km from the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary, in eco-sensitive zone and involving massive infrastructure has started work without legally mandatory environment clearance, environment and social impact assessment or any public consultation process.

This is clearly illegal, in violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and EIA notification of September 2006 and a number of NGT and Court orders about such massive kind of construction on the riverbed. On 31 October 2013, the foundation stone was laid for the project amidst huge fanfare and media attention. Tenders have also been floated. Even the work for the Garudeshwar weir, proposed about 12 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, began without any social or environmental impact assessment, public consultation and environmental clearance from the Environmental Sub Group (ESG) of Narmada Control Authority’s (NCA).

The website http://www.statueofunity.in/ clearly state the purpose of tourism and involvement of the ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’ (SVPRET) to build ‘Statue of Unity’,  3.2 km downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam  inside the Narmada River on an islet called Sadhu Bet.

The website (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.N9z6EHIu.dpuf) says:

“A 13 km. long water body (pond) will create an excellent tourist spot with available infrastructure on both the banks.

The Statue of Unity is planned to be erected in the river bed on downstream of the main dam in the Garudeshwar Weir pond. A permanent standing water pool in and around the Statue of Unity will be created by Garudeshwar Weir, which will enable boating activity around the statue.” (Emphasis added.)

The estimated cost of the project is more than Rs. 2,500/- corers (Rs 2063 crores is the cost of “DESIGN, ENGINEERING, PROCUREMENT CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE STATUE OF UNITY D/S of Sardar Sarovar Dam, Village Kevadia Ta. Nandod, District of Narmada Gujarat State, India” as per tender notice, see: (http://www.statueofunity.in/tendernotice.html). The Government of Gujarat website(http://www.statueofunity.in/) clearly state that “A monument, that will not just be a mute memorial like the rest, but a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will boost tourism and facilitate development in the surrounding tribal areas.” and will involve huge infrastructure as described on the official website.

The key issues that beg immediate scrutiny are as follows:

(1)   The project clearly needs environment clearance under the EIA notification of September 2006, but has not applied for or obtained the clearance at any stage.

(2)   The Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary boundary is touching the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir (as a part of the Environmental Protection measures of the Sardar Sarovar Project, the earlier Dhumkal Sloth Bear Sanctuary was extended to meet the reservoir boundaries and is called Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.) Since the statute is only 3.2 kms from the Sardar Sarovar Dam, it is certainly near by Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.

(3)   The Project involves construction on the river bed and inside the proposed reservoir, close to sanctuary in eco-sensitive zone, and hence will have serious impacts on the ecology and environment. Hence, and EIA and EC is crucial.

(4)   The project will affect the downstream river, its biodiversity, people and livelihoods and other related aspects.

(5)   A comprehensive assessment of the environmental and social impacts of the ‘Statue of Unity’ and its contribution to the cumulative impact of all the projects and activities in the area has not been done.

(6)   The project also needs public consultation, but none has happened so far.

(7)   During the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam due to hard rock digging, the seismic area already carries the burden of artificial activity in the bed rock and added load in what is deemed geologically fault line area. Public reports on geotechnical and geological studies on the proposed site have raised issues of structural stability as well as safety. This cannot be taken casually by authorities. The seismic hazard analysis claimed to have been done by the Gujarat Government’s in-house “Institute of Seismological Research” (http://www.statueofunity.in/execution.html#sthash.jEBrofSN.dpuf) or the Geological and Geotechnical investigation commissioned to another government institute WAPCOS cannot be considered credible unless peer reviewed and put in public domain.

In view of the above facts on record, we demand that:

  1. Direct the Government of Gujarat to submit application for environment clearance and till that is obtained, not to do any work related to the project.
  2. Direct the Government of Gujarat to immediately stop planned project called ‘Statue of Unity’ and direct them to stop all other activities related to the ‘Statue of Unity’.
  3. Declare the action – of the foundation stone installation on 31 October 2013 for the project called ‘Statue of Unity’ – of the Chief Minister of Gujarat State as illegal, in violation of the EIA notification of September 2006 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

We will look forward to your urgent action and also point wise response.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Rohit Prajapati

Girish Patel

Himanshu Thakkar

 

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