Withdrawal of the proposal of JSW Utkal Steel Limited’s proposed project site near the Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha based on the inadequate and fraudulent EIA report.

New Delhi: On 27th January 2022, an online press conference was held by Delhi Solidarity Group and Friends of the Earth India, to present the study analysis on the Environmental Impact Assessment procedures for JSW Utkal Steels proposed project site at Dhinkia, Odisha.  The study by the Centre for Research on Energy & Clean Air titled “Health impacts Assessment and Assessment of the EIA report of Integrated Steel Plant, JSW Utkal Steel Limited, Odisha, India highlights the  fraudulent representation of actual environmental as well as serious health impacts. Findings show that the emission load of the proposed plant will be 2 times the emissions for the entire cluster at Paradip for PM and 2/3rd for SO2, which means that the air quality will deteriorate further, resulting in severe health impacts and extension of the intensity and geographical reach of already existing CEPI area in the Jagatsinghpur district.

The EIA report prepared for the proposed JSW Utkal Steel Limited is nothing but to merely justify the project, rather assess the impact on the environment. There have been severe discrepancies while conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for JSW Utkal Steel Limited’s proposed project site near the Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha. The EIA report has made deliberate attempts not to acknowledge the impacts of any further pollution load on the environment of the area. The EIA consultant in a duty-bound fashion has toiled to justify the proposed project, rather than scientifically assessing the impacts on the environment.

The press conference was addressed by the noted environmental activist and recipient of Goldman Environmental Awardee from Odisha, Mr. Prafulla Samantara, Com. Hannan Mollah, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, and Mr Sunil Dahiya lead analyst from Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Mr. Samantara raised his concern on the ongoing struggle in Dhinkia village where the Government is trying to forcefully acquire the farming land for the JSW Steels project. This is the same site where POSCO had earlier come up with a mega steel project. But, after POSCO’s exit from Dhinkia village, the Govt. of Odisha has given the proposed site to JSW Utkal Steel’s for setting up of 13.2 MTPA steel plant, 10 MTPA cement, and 900 MW captive power plant at an estimated cost of 65000 crores at Jagatsinghpur near Paradip Port, Odisha.

He also spoke about the right to life and livelihood of the people which is threatened largely, and the state and central government’s negation of this raises bigger issues. Moreover, the peaceful protests by the people, which is their right including old men and women, were denied by violence inflicted on them. “Some people say that we do not want industrialization, it is not a matter of debate, we say that this industrialization is being done in a densely populated area, due to which people will lose their livelihood and this is also a big threat to the environment, so how thousand of people can Invite  to this project. The government is imposing this project on the people and taking away their livelihood and right to live and forcing them to die or leave the place,” said Prafulla Samantara.

Mr. Dahiya spoke about the way EIA has been conducted because “As part of the EIA report, 50 readings per station were collected across seasons to assess ambient air quality. According to the CPCB protocol, 50 or more days of monitoring in a year should be compared to the average annual concentration (CPCB, 2020). The EIA report misses out on accounting for incremental PM2.5 from the plant operation. These emissions are the most harmful part of the particulate pollution and should be integral to Environment and Health Impact Assessments”.

“Overall, the project has been given the green light on the basis of the emission load which is not talked about and attempts have to be made to cover it via various attempts/reports. “An even more polluted industry is being allowed in an already polluted area and the emission load is not taken into account at all” Dahiya mentioned.

Com. Hannan Mollah questions the present economic policies of the Government which supports the corporate houses. He talked about the history of the POSCO and how it took a long time to evade the danger of the project through protests for a long time. The state and the central government are again trying to implement the project and are surrendering to the corporates. Therefore, the people of Dhinkia along with people all over India should take inspiration from the farmer’s movement to protest against this unjust project which has become a threat to the lives of the people. He also stresses that there is an urgent need to spread the word and information to the people in a simple language. We will try to build a campaign  to create public opinion at national level against the surrendering of the government before the corporates and loot of Jal Jungle Jameen.

“We can not accept such atrocities on our people, their lives and the environment. All India Kisan Sabha oppose this anti people, anti farmer move of Government. We demand that this corporate house should not be allowed to loot people and burden the environment,” said Comrade Hannan Mollah.

The Speakers also informed that the affected villages in Dhinkia Charidesh have a population of more than 22,000 people who will be forced to bear the brunt of dangerous cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases along with the scarcity of clean drinking water.

Hence, we demand the withdrawal of the proposal of JSW Utkal Steel Limited’s proposed project site near the Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha based on the inadequate and fraudulent EIA report.

We also demand an independent assessment based on understanding the comprehensive environment and health impacts of the proposed project on the surrounding areas including human settlements to be carried out before proceeding any further.

 

 

The excerpts of this EIA assessment report is below.
Excerpts recording shortcomings in EIA report:
  • The EIA compares the three-season average to daily PM10 levels. This comparison is skewed as there is a significant difference between the aforementioned data points. While the daily PM10 standard is 100 μg/m3, the annual standard is 60 μg/m3. Therefore, seasonal and cross-seasonal averages should always be compared to annual rather than daily standards.
  • As part of the EIA report, 50 readings per station were collected across seasons to assess ambient air quality. According to the CPCB protocol, 50 or more days of monitoring in a year should be compared to the average annual concentration (CPCB, 2020).
  • The EIA report misses out on accounting for incremental PM2.5 from the plant operation. These emissions are the most harmful part of the particulate pollution and should be integral to Environment and Health Impact Assessments.
  • The EIA report also misses out on accounting for Mercury (Hg) or any other heavy metal from the plant operation, which should have been reported in the Environment and Health Impact Assessments.
  • The EIA report uses an air pollution dispersion model which doesn’t account for secondary particulate formation, PM2.5 formed from SO2 and NOx emissions. These formed secondary PM2.5 make up a more significant component of the total PM2.5 emission load from any fossil fuel combustion facility (Dahiya & Myllyvirta, 2021). Accounting for secondary particulates makes the predicted PM levels from the plant multiple times higher (CREA, 2021). Therefore, the ignorance of secondary particulate formation leads to a significant underestimating of the total pollutant concentrations.
  • Lime Kiln, Cement Plant, and a few other combustion sources have entirely omitted data on NOx emissions without any explanation. Combustion of any fuel produces NOx emissions, which should be accounted for to ensure environmental impact assessments are comprehensive and nuanced.
High Emission Load in Critically Polluted region:
  • Paradip, Jagatsinghpur (~5- 10 km aerial distance from the proposed ISP site) is known as one of the most polluted geographies in India and has been classified as a severely polluted area under the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI)(OSPCB, 2020). The average PM10 and PM2.5 levels in 2018 for the Paradip area were respectively reported at 119 (36-317) ug/m3 and 48 (16-161) ug/m3  as monitored by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board, which are higher than the prescribed annual permissible limits of 60 ug/m3 and 40 ug/m3 for the pollutants.
The total emission load was at 12,700 kg/day for PM; and 43,600 kg/day for SO2 for the entire industrial cluster of 15 Red category industries in the area at Paradip. On the other hand, the emission load from the proposed ISP is estimated at ~25,800 for PM and ~31,900 kg/Day for SO2, respectively, Making the project a highly polluting source within the same district.
The above-presented data highlights that:
  • The proposed project site is just 5-10 km away from the already severely polluted area of Paradip and receives pollution from the region resulting in already high air pollution levels at the proposed project site as reported in the EIA report and mentioned in the earlier section.
  • The emission load of the proposed plant will be ~2 times the emissions for the entire cluster at Paradip for PM and 2/3rd for SO2, which means that the air quality will deteriorate further, resulting in severe health impacts and extension of the intensity and geographical reach of already existing CEPI area in the Jagatsinghpur district.
Health Impacts:
  • The air pollutant emissions would be responsible for an estimated 94 deaths per year (95% confidence interval: 65 – 129). Air pollution would also lead to a projected 180 emergency room visits due to asthma, 160 preterm births, and 75,000 days of work absence per year.
In Solidarity,
Sonu Yadav, Aishwarya Bajpai, Jibin Robin, Shabina, Krishnakant
Listen to the recording of the Press Conference here.
Cover photo: Journalists going to meet victims of police repression.