Nov 11: Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor people oppose project at

November 11, 2013

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor: people oppose Manesar-Bawal segment
of project at public hearing

Soundaram Ramanathan

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project, an Indo-Japanese mega
infrastructure project, is not going down too well with farmers in
villages whose lands are being acquired for developing the “global
manufacturing and trading hub”. Earlier this year, villages in
Maharashtra had protested forceful land acquisition for the project.
Now villages in Haryana who have been opposing land acquisition for
the project registered their protest afresh at a public hearing
organised on October 31 for the expansion of Dharuhera industrial
estate as part of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project.

People in the affected area on the outskirts of Delhi protested the
project, citing existing pollution from Dharuhera industrial estate
along NH-8 (Delhi-Jaipur road) with large manufacturing plants of
popular companies like Hero Honda Motors, Rico Auto Industries and
Sehgal Paper Mills. Following this, the deputy commissioner of Rewari,
C G Rajini Kaanthan, ordered an inspection of polluting industries on
the insistence of residents.

The existing Dharuhera industrial estate of the Haryana State
Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) and the
surrounding area is proposed to be expanded and made a part of the
Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor as Manesar-Bawal investment region.
For this, a public hearing was called, which is mandated as part of
Environmental Clearance procedure for such projects. The Delhi-Mumbai
Industrial Corridor project worth US $90 billion is being developed
with financial and technical aid from Japan. The project would be
developed along a 1,483 km corridor between the political capital and
the business capital of India—Delhi and Mumbai. The project is an
industrial zone spread across six states—Uttar Pradesh, Delhi,
Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra—and would include six mega
investment regions of 200 sq km each.

The project is expected to be developed in three phases. The first
phase is proposed to be completed around 2021. More than 60 per cent
of Haryana state comes under the project. Four industrial nodes are
proposed to be developed in Haryana state—Manesar-Bawal Investment
Region, Faridabad-Palwal Investment Region, Kundli-Sonepat Investment
Region and Rewari-Hisar Investment Region. Manesar-Bawal is one of the
investment regions selected for development in the first phase of the
industrial corridor.

Land acquisition for the project was marked with violent protests last
year. When land acquisition started in more than twenty one villages
near the Bawal region, people blocked NH-8. The protest turned into
riots and four buses were burnt along the road last July.

Effluents destroy farms

Dodhai and Karnwas are two villages in the area which have been
severely affected by water logging and flooding by effluent water. In
Dodhai village, some residents were digging their land for
construction about a month ago and found water gushing out at a depth
of just one-and-half-feet. The area looks like a pond and is not fit
for any kind of activity now. Village residents allege the stagnation
of industrial effluent in the effluent water pond of Haryana State
Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) is the
main reason for water logging.

They also allege flooding of water from the water pond affecting their
farm lands. “Earlier also they used to dump water, but the quantity
was less. Industries have been mushrooming for the past three years
and the quantity of waste water discharge is increasing. It just
floods the plants which wither in this waste water. Last year also I
faced the same problem,” explains Surender Singh of Dodhai village.

HSIIDC has not built a common effluent treatment plant. The effluent
water is stored in around 35 hectares (depth: 1.5 metre) by HSIIDC.

Industrialisation v people

The public hearing of the project, called to discuss the environmental
aspects of the project, was attended by farmers from these affected
villages. They patiently listened to the consultants at the hearing,
but started protesting vehemently when their presentation concluded.

“Don’t keep telling us stories. You say that’s the institutional zone
(pointing to the slide). Tell us how many schools or colleges would
come up there. We have heard such stories before. Can you point out
one school which has come up in this area?” asked Om Prakash, a
resident of Asalwas village. “There is only industrialisation, no
development is happening. Our sweet water, land, air, all is lost.
Enough industrialisation has happened. We don’t welcome the project.”

People complained the existing industry is polluting the environment
and that there is least development in terms of education and income
to the people of the area. They complained of heavy influx of migrants
from other areas. The population more than doubled because of
Dharuhera industrial area, they said.

People also complained against industries next to their compound
walls. The consultants present started explaining the concept of
green belt as a mitigation measure, which outraged the crowd even
more. The residents then posed questions about the number of trees
around existing industrial units.

Noise pollution near schools, excessive air pollution and water
pollution, acquisition of community land were major concerns at the
hearing. D V Raghav, assistant general manager with HSIIDC, and Dinesh
Kumar, the state pollution control board regional officer for
Dharuhera, rebutted them. “We have inspected the plants earlier, the
plants are complying with standards,” they said.

The explanation irked the village residents further. “The chimneys
give out smoke which is visible to our eyes, the water colour is bad,
we could make out that the effluent treatment plant is not working and
you keep telling the plants are meeting the standard! How are we to
believe? Come with us and we can show you now the state of waste
water, and the water logging we have to suffer,” shouted Surender
Singh of Dodhai village.

Following the altercation, the deputy commissioner of Rewari placated
the crowd by ordering an enquiry to ascertain the pollution caused by
Dharuhera industrial estate. The industries will be inspected by a
team of community representatives, regional officer of the pollution
control board and HSIIDC by the end of this month.

Further action will be based on the inspection report orders. The
public hearing concluded with the authorities recording the opinions
expressed by people, which will be sent to the Centre for
consideration for grant of environment clearance.

Desh Raj Nambarlal, sarpanch of Dodhai village, said if things don’t
change, sit-in demonstration on NH 8 road is the only choice for
people. “About 70 families have been affected by this effluent water
flooding. We have lost over 20 hectares of crops this year. We have
given our representations to the district collector, pollution control
officer, HSIIDC chairperson and many others. Now at the public hearing
they have promised some action within a month. If we don’t get any
relief, then the only way out is sitting on dharna on NH-8,” the
sarpanch said.