An expert panel of the Environment ministry has raised serious concerns about the impact the world’s largest solar park – proposed at Dholera in Gujarat – will have on one of the nine major routes in the world used by migratory birds.
The 4,400MW capacity solar park, proposed in the Dholera Special Investment Region near the Gulf of Khambat will spread over 8,595.95 hectares and cost Rs 25,000 crore. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) raised serious concerns about coastal erosion, potential sea-level rise and project’s impact on migratory birds while scrutinizing the project on January 25. While deferring appraisal of a major chunk of the project, it cleared a 1,000 MW component situated a little away from the inter-tidal zone, but it is still subject to clearance from the Wildlife department as the site is located near Velavadar National Park.
Around 8,000 hectares of the project site falls in inter-tidal zone in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) which faces high erosion, particularly of mudflats which act as a natural flood barrier. EAC noted that the mudflats are ecologically sensitive and its characteristics should not be altered.
The site falls under the Central Asian Flyway (CAF), one among nine flyways in the world that comprises multiple avian migration routes across 30 countries.
State authorities have been told to develop a model for the next 30 years, taking into account rising sea-levels, erosion and associated risks. They have been directed to refer to existing studies by the Bombay Natural History Society or conduct their own study.
An EAC member said that the project proposal did not include any related studies, and added that the panel will visit the site soon.
The Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) would be the major stakeholder in developing the proposed solar power park and the land would be leased out to GPCL for development of the proposed project.
8,000 – hectares fall in high-erosion coastal area
- Site falls under Central Asian Flyway
- No studies were presented that assess erosion, rise in sea-level