Has no concrete plan to rehabilitate area’s wildlife

With no environmental clearance in hand and no concrete rehabilitation plans for the area’s wildlife, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has started fencing the acquired land to set up the Gorakhpur Atomic Power Plant (GAPP) in Fatehabad.

Labourers at work to install concrete pillar fencing at the Gorakhpur Atomic Power Plant site in Fatehabad. (Hindustan Times)

Labourers at work to install concrete pillar fencing at the Gorakhpur Atomic Power Plant site in Fatehabad. (Hindustan Times)

It seems that the NPCIL has overlooked resentment registered by various animal activists, members of the People For Animals (PFA), Fatehabad, and the Bishnoi community, as the work is on a war footing.

For the proposed power plant at Gorkhpur, Badopal and Kajalheri, the NPCIL had acquired 1,503 acres in Fatehabad in 2012.

As per the mandatory norms of the environment ministry, the NPCIL is bound to get environmental clearance report before starting construction and is also bound to make alternative provisions for rehabilitation of the wildlife of the area of the construction site.

Vinod Karwasara, PFA district in charge, said: “Badopal is home to many wild animals, especially black bucks, but the construction by the NPCIL in the area for the past two months has resulted in their displacement.”

He said: “The environment ministry insists on clearance report before construction starts at a particular site as concrete construction and iron wires affect the free movement of animals, sometimes injuring or even killing them.”

He said: “Though the NPCIL claims to build a park on 50-60 acres to rehabilitate the wildlife at Badopal village, it is yet to acquire land for the purpose. Moreover, the village panchayat does not have uniform land to suit the purpose.”

Bishnoi Sabha president Bhup Singh said: “We have never opposed the construction of the nuclear power plant in Fatehabad, but if the NPCIL wants to go ahead with the project at the cost of animals, we will not tolerate and fight against it.”

He said a meeting of the Bishnoi Sabha would be conducted on Monday to take up the issue and a delegation would meet the district administration officials next week.

Dwarka Parsad, Fatehabad district wildlife officer, said: “The construction near Badopal has caused serious threat to the wildlife and noise of machines at work is challenging animals’ survival.” He said they had also dashed off a letter to the district administration demanding arrangements for the wildlife rehabilitation on priority basis.

On the NPCIL’s proposal to build a park, he said: “As the area is home to a huge population of animals, a 50-60-acre park won’t be sufficient. It is on the zoo authorities to decide as to how much space is needed to accommodate the animals found here.”

TR Arora, power plant’s chief project engineer, admitted that without the environment ministry’s clearance, they could not start the construction, but fencing and temporary makeshift arrangement could be done, which did not amount to violation of rules. On the installation of concrete poles as the fence of the acquired land, he said: “No threat to animals by the fence has been reported so far, as we can see them, especially black bucks, roaming freely. Nobody troubles them either.”

On the rehabilitation of the wildlife, he said: “We have already sought land to construct a deer park to rehabilitate the wild animals. Now, it’s the duty of the administration to provide us the land. As soon as we get space, the NPCIL will start building the park.”