Hindustan Zinc Limited’s (HZL) public hearing for EC draws serious flak from Doswada villagers.

Surat : The public hearing held at Doswada village in Tapi district’s Songadh taluka for environment clearance to the Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL), a Vedanta Group company, witnessed uproar from the land oustees who wished to bring their concerns to the notice of the officers.

Tens of hundreds of people from Doswada village, who were not allowed to participate and raise their questions against the proposed mining project of Vedanta at the public hearing, thronged outside the hearing site for demonstration. Heavy police force numbering more than 200 with erecting barricades prevented the large number of villagers from attending the public hearing.

HZL proposes to setup state-of-the-art Zinc Smelter Complex with proposed capacity of 1×0.35 MTPA of Zinc Smelter along with Fumer Plant, 2X90 MW of Captive Power Plant (CPP) and 35 MW Waste Heat Recovery Boiler (WHRB) at GIDC Doswada village in Songadh taluka.

As per Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification dated September 14, 2006, the proposed project falls under category-‘A’ of project activity 3(a) metallurgical industries (ferrous & non-ferrous) and 1(d) thermal power plants and requires prior Environmental Clearance (EC) to be obtained from Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) before the commencement of ground activity

Sources said that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had organized public hearing for the environment clearance to the Hindustan Zinc at Doswada village, which falls under the scheduled area. According to the Indian Constitution, consent of the people living in the areas falling under Schedule-5 is required for taking up any industrial or mining projects.

The officials of GPCB had conveyed to the local leaders and activists that over 200 people will not be allowed to attend the public hearing. A heavy police force was deployed outside the HZL plant at Doswada and that the villagers were prevented from entering the premises for the public hearing.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) activist, Krishnakant Chauhan told TBT, “Allowing HZL for setting up Zinc smelter complex will have a huge environmental impact in Doswada village. The public hearing by GPCB is just an eyewash as it is held under the presence of huge police force and not allowing the stakeholder villagers to participate. We condemn the act and demand free and fair hearing”