The environmental public hearing at Karli village for proposed Gondkhari Underground Coal Mine, on Thursday, witnessed stern opposition from villagers, political leaders and environment activists. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) held the public hearing in which a large number of citizens attended. The villagers and activists started creating ruckus since the start of the hearing alleging non-compliance of the procedure set by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). Former Minister Sunil Kedar, during the hearing, expressed solidarity with the villagers and asked the officials of MPCB to serve the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report in local language. The EIA that served to the villagers and others are in English and as per the rule it should be in local language, he said.
In reply, the officials of Coal Mine said that they would provide the EIA in local language after the hearing. On this, Kedar pulled the representatives of MPCB and the Coal Mine for not following the rule. Environment activists said, MPCB website was not working since morning and it was allegedly done deliberately. Notice of the public hearing, EIA report and other important informations about the public hearing were available on the website, but the same were not accessible to any one since the morning the hearing was scheduled. Following the flaws, the villagers started raising slogans against the project and created ruckus. Due to the pandemonium, MPCB stopped the meeting proceedings.
Meanwhile, Kedar submitted a memorandum to Hema Deshpande, Sub-Regional Officer, MPCB, during the hearing. He requested the District Collector to re-schedule the public hearing in a week to listen the issues of the villagers. The District Collector assured him to conduct the hearing soon. On the disruption, Hema Deshpande, SRO, MPCB, said, “We will report the incident with the Head Office and MoEF&CC. The decision of the re-scheduling of public hearing will be taken by the government.” For the public hearing, MPCB received large number of submissions from the locals from the surrounding eight villages -- Gondkhairi, Kalambi, Pendhari, Surabardi, Nanda, Karli, Alesur, and Wardhamna of Kalmeshwar tehsil that would be affected due to the Underground Coal Mine.The public hearing was chaired by Subhash N Chaudhari, Resident Deputy Collector, Nagpur. Hema Deshpande, SRO, MPCB; and Rajendra U Patil, SRO, MPCB were also present. During the meeting, the officials of the Coal Mine placed documents on record to explain the project features such as mine capacity, potential investment, and job opportunities among the gathering. The Gondkhairi Cole Mine spans across 862 hectares and is projected to generate a total of two million tonnes of coal each year over the course of its 30-year lifespan.
Anil Deshmukh also opposes coal mine at Gondkhairi
Former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh also supported villagers and submitted a memorandum to the MPCB opposition the Coal Mine which will affect 24 gram panchayats of Kalmeshwar taluka. Deshmukh reached the public hearing venue a little late, by then the hearing was stopped due to the opposition from the participating villagers and environment activists. After the hearing, Deshmukh called on Hema Deshpande and requested her to re-schedule the hearing. Deshpande assured to do the needful soon.