1 GW of Projects in Dholera Solar Park Get Environment Ministry’s Approval with Conditions

The expert committee overseeing the projects related to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) has recommended that the first phase of the 1 GW solar power project can get started in the inter-tidal areas. This capacity is part of the 4,400 MW Solar Power Park at Dholera Special Investment Region, near Gulf of Khambat.

However, the committee has put forward some conditions.

The committee has found that about 8,000 hectares (ha) fall under CRZ-1B. This is an inter-tidal zone and is a highly eroding area. These mudflats are ecologically very sensitive, and its characteristics should not be altered.

Therefore, the committee has recommended that an erosion modeling study spanning 30 years should be carried out.  The committee has also asked the project developers to study the rise of sea level and associated risks for the next 30 years.

Apart from this, the committee observed that the region falls under Central Asia flyway of migratory birds and therefore the potential impact on migratory birds needs to be assessed. Therefore, clearance from the Standing Committee of Wildlife would be necessary.

The committee will further examine the matter for the addition of remaining capacity of the solar park after the studies on erosion modeling, the rise in sea level and impact on the migratory bird are completed.

The project developers would also have to undertake a massive afforestation program in the region to combat likely rise in ambient temperature due to installations of solar PV panels. This should be executed simultaneously during the implementation of the project. However, no afforestation can be done on non-vegetated mudflats.

Here are some other conditions –

  • No mudflats and connecting inter-tidal streams are to be touched during the implementation of the project.
  • No groundwater will be extracted to meet with the water requirements during the construction and/or operation phases.
  • A third party (an external agency of repute) will be appointed for supervision/monitoring of proposed activities

Earlier, Dholera Special Investment Regional Development Authority (Government of Gujarat) had made a presentation to the committee about the project.

Here are some of the points made in their presentation –

  • The Government of Gujarat has come out with a proposal to set up the world’s largest solar power park of 4,400 MW capacity at Dholera.
  • The total land area of DSIR is about 920 sq. km of which 520 sq. km has been allocated for town planning and approximately 400 sq. km falls under CRZ of Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The proposed Solar Power Park will cover the land of about 8,594.95 (hectare) ha, of which 7,949.17 ha fall under CRZ-1B, 204.34 ha in CRZ-III, 5.03 ha in CRZ-IVB and 436.40 ha in non-CRZ zone.
  • The total area available for the development of solar park after carving out the ‘No-go’ areas of salt marshes, mud-flats, mangroves and interspersed areas within these land features would be to the tune of 8,594.95 ha of which the proposed solar project would occupy an area of about 8,252 ha.
  • The site touches the Gulf of Khambhat on the eastern side and river Sukhbhadar passes through the northern side of the special investment region.
  • There are no eco-sensitive areas within 2-3 km of the site. The nearest eco-sensitive site of Velvadar Black Buck sanctuary is about 4 km south-west from the nearest solar plot planned.

Recently, Mercom reported that the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) issued a Request for Selection for the purchase of 1,000 MW of power from grid-connected solar photovoltaic power projects located in Dholera Solar Park (phase V).

Image credit: Greenko

Nitin is a staff reporter at Mercomindia.com and writes on renewable energy and related sectors. Prior to Mercom, Nitin has worked for CNN IBN, India News, Agricultural Spectrum and Bureaucracy Today. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Communication from Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University and Master’s degree in International Relations from Jindal School of International Affairs. More articles from Nitin Kabeer