Public hearing on Gangavaram port expansion today

Our Bureau Visakhapatnam | Updated on May 11, 2011 Published on May 11, 2011

The public hearing on expansion of the Gangavaram port — with the proposal to add four more berths to the existing five — will be conducted on Thursday by the AP Pollution Control Board. Organisations such as the Forum for Better Visakha are protesting against the expansion as they oppose the private port, Gangavaram Port Ltd (GPL), being allowed to take up the project.

On the eve of the public hearing, the port authorities issued a press note narrating the steps taken by them to control pollution and rehabilitate displaced fishermen in the nearby villages. The port has adopted an environmental management plan consisting of mitigation measures, monitoring programme and institutional measures to minimise the adverse impact.

According to the note, the GPL has constructed a wind-breaking wall near the boundary of Gangavaram village for protection. As a part of the plan, the Gangavaram port has adopted the most modern mechanical dust suppression system at a cost of around Rs 20 crore. The system provides for dust suppression at various points starting with the hopper (where the coal is discharged from the ship), conveyor belts carrying coal, transfer towers transferring coal and iron ore, yard machines (stackers and reclaimers), and wagon loaders and wagon-tippler facilities. Water is sprinkled on the general cargo berth and roads and yards to keep the areas free of dust when vehicles are moving around in the port.

Two sewage treatment plants have been set up in the port. The inlet and outlet waters are regularly monitored regularly according to the regulations, and the treated water is fit according to regulations. The treated water is used for dust-suppression and green-belt development. GPL has developed a green-belt in an area of 240 acres with 60,000 plants and has plans for further development, added the press release.

Pending cases

GPL has provided jobs to people affected by the port construction. “We have recruited 508 people as against promised jobs for 600. The port has not been able to fill up the remaining vacancies as per its commitment due to court cases. The cases have been filed by some fishermen, as the village residents had problems with the allocation of beneficiaries. The port is committed to solving the employment problem, and will ensure all jobs are provided once the court gives its verdict,” clarifies the release. The cases are pending in the AP High Court and the Supreme Court.

The press release added that at the behest of the Andhra Pradesh Government, the Gangavaram port began developing a fish-landing centre at the Yarada beach. It has already constructed the lagoon for safe landing of catamarans. The State Government has laid roads up to the fish-landing centre. Thereafter, on the demand of the fishermen, work was taken up to construct groins so as to provide better tranquillity and avoid siltation. However, the work was stopped due to the objections raised by the Visakhapatnam port authorities.

Published on May 11, 2011
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