The Gulf of Kutch located in western Gujarat covers an area of 7,350 km2, is approximately 170 km long, and up to 75 km wide at its mouth. The Gulf is bordered by Kutch district to the north, Jamnagar district to the south, Rajkot and Morbi districts to the east, Devbhoomi Dwarka district to the south-west, and the Arabian Sea to the west. The Gulf of Kutch is only one of the 4 locations in India where live corals are present. The Gulf is interspersed with freshwater wetlands, mangroves, tidal mudflats and bounded by extensive coral reef habitat mostly in the south. These ecosystems form the foundation of the unique marine ecology and biodiversity of the Gulf. Fishing and agriculture are the primary livelihood activities in the region. Fishing especially has been a primary activity due to a wide range of fish available in the Gulf. 

The first of the industries to come up in the region was a chemical factory at Mithapur in 1937. Since then, the region has seen a steady increase in the development of modern ports catering to the import of raw materials like coal, oil and gas, thermal power plants and oil and gas storage facilities and refining infrastructure. Today, the 40 km coastline on both the northern and southern part of the Gulf are dotted with one or the other such infrastructure.

The Gulf of Kutch is endowed with rich marine and coastal biodiversity. It is considered as a Critically Vulnerable Coastal Area (CVCA) as per the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011 of the Government of India. The Gulf’s biodiversity and unique features like the extensive intertidal areas, mangroves, mudflats, creeks etc. and the livelihoods of the fishing communities, culture and lifestyle are intertwined for several generations. Their contribution to the fisheries sector of Gujarat can be gauged from the fact that while a tenth of Gujarat’s fish catch came from Kutch, more than a third of this is from these traditional fishing communities.

In Kutch district, currently there are 3 coal based power plants – 4,000 MW by Tata Power, 4,620 MW by Adani Power and 300 MW by OPG group. There are two ports operated by Adani (one of which is exclusively handling imported coal). A slew of additional projects have been announced within the SEZ that is operated by the Adani group, among them is a PVC plant with capacity of 2 million tons per annum. Project expansions and operations, the additional coal handling at the port and the operations of a highly toxic industry will compound environmental hazards and increase the health risks for the people while further polluting the environment and accelerating degradation of the ecology. Based on the current practise, the Government provided the environment clearance for this project based on the traditional environment impact assessment (EIA), not a cumulative one that would consider the existing projects and their impacts.

Towards the south, 30 km across the gulf from Mundra coast, there is the 1200 MW Essar Thermal Power station at Vadinar, Reliance’s Jamnagar Refineries at Motikhavdi, the largest in the world has a refining capacity of 70 MMTPA. Nayara Energy also has its refinery in Vadinar with a 20 MMTPA capacity and a planned expansion to 46 MMTPA. All the 3 companies have dedicated coal, oil and gas terminals according to their needs.

Read and download the report here: Poison PVC: Big Coal Leading PVC Growth in India.