In the western Indian state of Gujarat is the large and austerely beautiful district known as Kutch. It is an ecologically unique place, with shallow wetlands, salt flats, important grasslands, and the channel-cut Mundra Coast. Mundra is known for its rich biodiversity, with a combination of inter-tidal mudflats, mangroves, and natural creeks supporting a rich diversity of seaweed, corals, fish and an array of marine life.
The Mundra belt has always been considered to be extremely ecologically fragile and economically productive. This network of creeks, estuaries and mudflats are unique and very important because fishermen use these to land their boats to keep them safe from strong winds and currents. The creeks also form a natural drainage system that, if disturbed, can lead to flooding during monsoons. While the region supports the livelihoods of fishing villages near the sea, the inland areas have several pastoralist and farming communities who rely on the availability of sweet water and vast stretches of common lands. Many people also rely on the coast for their salt panning work.
“Companies don’t talk to people. They are not ready to listen to us. Many locals think they will get jobs in these companies, but they don’t. Companies make false promises.”
-Husain Kara, Fisherman
Gujarat is also one of the first landfalls in India for shipping from Europe and the Middle East and the Mundra region has for the last decade and a half seen ferocious industrial expansion. A range of multi-purpose ports, coal-handling facilities and thermal power plants have all been granted approval and built. These approvals were granted under various environment regulations. This report from Namati, in partnership with Mundra Hitrakshak Manch (Forum for the Protection of Rights in Mundra), MASS and Ujjas Mahila Sangathan shows that the enforcement of these regulations has been woefully inadequate.
One of the largest of Mundra’s industrial and infrastructure projects is the waterfront development project (WFDP) known originally as the Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone and now known as Adani Port and SEZ. This project, which will eventually encompass 13,000 hectares – equivalent to roughly 13,000 rugby pitches – was given clearance by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests under India’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications on 12 January 2009.
Under EIA notifications, activities like mining, power generation and major industrial projects need to be preceded by a process of assessing potential environmental impacts and by a public hearing before permission can be granted to begin construction.
With every permission it issues, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) sets conditions that need to be met during the construction and operation of the projects. The environmental clearance for the Adani Port and SEZ development was issued alongside 17 specific and 14 general mandatory conditions. These conditions have the power of law and restrict the kind of activities permitted in a specifically defined part of the coast.
Past experience has shown that both government enforcement of and corporate compliance with environmental regulations is often very inadequate. With this in mind, Namati and its partners undertook discussions among members of the communities in Mundra that had been affected by the waterfront development. We worked with village representatives, local activists, researchers, and community groups to explore the possibility of carrying out a community-led exercise investigating the compliance of the project with its environmental conditions. This would also ascertain the extent of enforcement of the coastal and environmental regulations related to the port project’s clearances. The report would measure the project’s impact on both people’s lives and the environment in the coastal areas.
The idea was to initiate a ground-truthing exercise. Ground-truthing is a term that has developed in cartography, meteorology and other sciences that combine image data with information on real features collected at a specific location.
Many of the issues the local community uncovered in its ground-truthing exercise – in particular the potential destruction of mangroves – had already been the subject of challenges before the project was constructed. After one case brought by fishermen, the MoEF even issued a legal notice to the developers asking them to explain why their clearance should not be revoked – yet the project had carried on.
“There is not enough grazing land for cattle. They used to drink water at the dam, but now the water is dirty. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are buying most of the available water. All the water in Kutch is going to companies, not villages.”
-Javjiba Jadeja, Baraya village
The ground-truthing report established that much of what locals feared has come to pass. Large areas along the sides of creeks have been cleared of their mangroves – which in turn is causing the destruction of the fragile ecosystem of the main and supporting creek systems in the area. Access for fishing communities to their fishing grounds has also been impeded. Despite conditions of the environmental clearance that are supposed to guarantee fishing vessel access, creeks have been filled in. Traditional pagadiya fishermen – who operate without boats and place their nets across creeks at low tide – were ignored in the clearances and their livelihoods have also been damaged.
The exercise also uncovered, through a right to information request, that only one copy of the supposedly mandatory six-monthly monitoring and compliance reports of the WFDP project were available.
For Namati, part of the purpose of this exercise was to try and achieve larger legal empowerment goals, in addition to uncovering the violations. Namati and its local partners attempted to create a process that both allowed local communities to gain a better understanding of the regulatory conditions and at the same time gather legally admissible evidence related to environmental violations. The importance of the ground-truthing approach is that communities themselves were able to correlate the social and environmental impacts of the development project with the enforcement and compliance processes of environment and coastal zone approvals.
Namati and its partners believe that is important to be able to draw lessons from the exercise so that it can be replicated elsewhere in India and so that it can help us prepare tools so that other communities can take similar actions in the future.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Last updated: July 25, 2022
Welcome to the namati.org website (the “Site”) and the Legal Empowerment Network Forum (the “Forum”) operated by Namati, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Namati”, “we”, “us” or “our”). We share your concern about the protection of your personal information online.
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
We may, from time to time, store and archive the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum. The information that we gather may include your name, title, and address, telephone number, email address, credit card number or other elements of personal information. In addition, if you contact us, we may keep a record of your correspondence, including any information contained therein.
You may decline to provide any personal information, but please realize that you thereby may be unable to register or to participate in activities or services offered on the Site and/or Forum.
In addition to the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum, we also may collect and store data from and about you gathered in the course of your use of the Site and Forum. We call this “tracking data.”
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Our use of your Information involves various forms of communication with you, including:
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Your Information is stored on Digital Ocean servers in New York, USA, and WPengine servers located in Texas, USA. When you provide personal information to us, we request your consent to transfer that personal information to the USA. The USA does not have an adequacy decision from the European Commission, which means that the Commission has not determined that the laws of the USA provide adequate protection for personal information. Although the laws of the USA do not provide legal protection that is equivalent to the EU GDPR, we safeguard your personal information by treating it in accordance with this Policy. We take appropriate steps to protect your privacy and implement reasonable security measures to protect your personal information in storage. We use secure transmission methods to collect personal data through our website. We also enter into contracts with our data processors that require them to treat personal information in a manner that is consistent with this Policy.
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Namati Data Protection Officer
1616 P Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036, USA
It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us.
You have the right to:
Request access to your personal data (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate data we hold about you corrected, though we may need to verify the accuracy of the new data you provide to us.
Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal data where you have successfully exercised your right to object to processing (see below), where we may have processed your information unlawfully or where we are required to erase your personal data to comply with local law. Note, however, that we may not always be able to comply with your request of erasure for specific legal reasons which will be notified to you, if applicable, at the time of your request.
Object to processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground as you feel it has an impact on your fundamental rights and freedoms. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes. In some cases, we may demonstrate that we have compelling legitimate grounds to process your information which override your rights and freedoms.
Request restriction of processing of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to suspend the processing of your personal data in the following scenarios:
Request the transfer of your personal data to you or to a third party. We will provide to you, or a third party you have chosen, your personal data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format. Note that this right only applies to automated information which you initially provided consent for us to use or where we used the information to perform a contract with you.
Withdraw consent at any time where we are relying on consent to process your personal data. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent. If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide certain products or services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.
You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we could refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.
We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it. We may also contact you to ask you for further information in relation to your request to speed up our response.
We try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. Occasionally it could take us longer than a month if your request is particularly complex or you have made a number of requests. In this case, we will notify you and keep you updated.
If you live in an EEA Member State, all of which have adopted the EU GDPR and national , you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application. The European Commission has a list of EU national data protection authorities here:
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority, the ICO, about this policy and its application:
The Policy was updated in July 2022 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.