MAC: Mines and Communities

India: new river terminal meets vigorous opposition

Published by MAC on 2019-09-22
Source: Counterview (2019-09-11)

A major multi-faceted river terminal - intended to serve the needs of the coal and other industrial sectors - has met with strident civil society opposition, especially from uprooted families.

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced': Lose land,
livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview

11 September 2019

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday
India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in
Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of
about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the
government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and
environmental concerns.

While the Government of India claims that the terminal would open up
industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to the global market and provide
Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route, and some of the
commodities with will be transported would include coal, stone chips,
fertilizers, cement and sugar, a statement by the civil rights
organizations says that the people of Sahibganj have “lost their land and
are on the edge of losing their livelihood.”

The second Jal Marg Vikas Project – the first one being the MMT at
Varanasi, inaugurated by the Prime Minister in November last year – has
left people of the area “distressed with the process of resettlement and
compensation, discrepancies in the resettlement surveys”, the statement
says.

Text:

"We have learnt that the Prime Minister is going to dedicate tomorrow to
the nation the second riverine Multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj in
Jharkhand, even when many of the concerns regarding the social and
environmental impact remain to be addressed. It is claimed that the
terminal has been built in record time, and certainly one of the reason is
the brushing aside or neglect of these serious issue. We are deeply
concerned by the neglect of these concerns by the authorities.

"This terminal is second of the three Multi-modal terminals constructed
under the Jal Marg Vikas Project or National Waterway-1, which is a World
Bank funded project on river Ganga. These Multi-modal terminals are meant
to provide link between the three modes of transport – railways, roadways
and waterways. The Sahibgunj Multi-modal terminal is being pushed to open
up industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to the global market and provide
Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route.

"The Sahibganj terminal is built on the land (estimated requirement) of 195
acres of which 183.13 acres of main terminal and 9.24 acres for road
connectivity has been fully acquired under Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR)
Act, 2013. The terminal is to be developed in two phases – this
inauguration is for the first phase of the terminal. Around 485 families
have been identified as project affected families; resettlement of many
families is yet to be done.

"The people of Sahibganj have lost their land and are on the edge of losing
their livelihood due to the Multi-modal terminal. They are distressed with
the process of resettlement and compensation, discrepancies in the
resettlement surveys, and have contacted the authorities to address their
issues but to no avail. Further, a freight village (industrial cum
logistic park and integrated vessel repair and maintenance complex) is
also proposed on 335 acres of land in contiguity with the terminal which
means more displacement is being lined up.

"The Multi-modal terminal is likely to have several serious adverse impacts
on the environment. Firstly, the terminal will aid the transportation of
domestic coal from local mines in Rajmahal areas to various thermal power
plants located on the National Waterway-1 on Ganga. Other than coal, stone
chips, fertilisers, and cement are other commodities which are expected to
be transported through the terminal.

"Serious adverse impacts on the environment are likely due to
loading/unloading and storage of these commodities. The dredging to keep
the passage to the terminal navigable, the noise and disturbance due to
movement of ship, leakage of oil and lubricants, all are likely to have a
serious impact on the river flora and fauna, especially the fish.
Livelihoods of the fishing communities are also likely to be affected.

"Given the scale of the terminal and seriousness of the adverse impacts on
the environment, one would expect a strong environmental governance
regime. Instead of strengthening and implementing the existing laws which
require the terminal to take prior environmental clearance, Ministry of
Shipping facilitated these Multi-modal terminals to circumvent the
provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and
getting these terminals exempted from the need to obtain an Environmental
Clearance.

"We, the undersigned, who have been working on the issues related to
social, environmental and economic aspects of the inland waterways
programs, express serious concern at these lapses and demand the
following:

"To expedite the resettlement process with participation of the people
of Sahebganj and as per the 2013 LARR Act.

"No more land acquisition, as is proposed for a private concern, untill
and unless consent of 80% affected people are taken as per the LARR
Act 2013.

"Before any further construction takes place nodal ministries must
ensure that the MMT at Sahibgunj applies for and gets the legally
mandatory environmental clearance, and a proper environment impact
assessment for the Multi-modal terminal and the Freight village in
Sahibganj is carried out.

"A large number of people would be loosing the livelihood due to
construction of this terminal and hence alternate livelihood for the
small boat owners engaged in local trading and fishing be developed.

"People of Jharkhand have born the burnt of development and large scale
resources have been acquired often ignoring the social and environmental
concerns. We urge that Prime Minister of India do not condone the
environmental violations and not inaugurate the Terminal, until all the
concerns are addressed".

*The statement issued by: National Alliance for People’s Movements,
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Ekal Nari Sashakti
Sangathan, Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Karnpura Bachao Sangharsh Samiti,
Adivasi Haq Bhumi Suraksha Morcha, JOSH, Gram Ganrajya Prakhand Samiti,
Hadma Kisan Jan Sangathan, Omon Mahila Sangathan

 

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