Seeking the Union Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) and State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority to direct Gujarat government to obtain environmental clearance for its ambitious Statue of Unity project before starting any work for the same, a group of concerned citizens and environment activists on Thursday wrote to the two authorities. In the letter, they demanded the two authorities to get stopped any work on the project initiated by the Gujarat government without carrying out environment impact assessment (EIA) study and obtaining mandatory environment clearance (EC) certificate.
The group, comprising around 17 activists led by Vadodara-based Rohit Prajapati, have stated that the project that involves construction on the riverbed and proposed reservoir - close to the sanctuary in eco-sensitive zone - will have serious impact on the ecology and environment and, therefore, the EIA and EC are crucial.
The project includes the construction of a 182-metre tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on Narmada riverbed on Sadhu bet, 3.2 km downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam site. It is going to be the world’s tallest statue. The project is a joint venture of the Gujarat government and a trust — Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust.
The activists have stated that the work on the project has started, tenders have been floated and the foundation stone for the same was recently laid without carrying out EIA study and obtaining EC certificate. And this, they added, was clearly in violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, and Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006 and a number of orders of the National Green Tribunal and courts about such massive construction on riverbed.