Expert Appraisal Committee · Ministry of Environment and Forests · River Valley Projects

Open Letter to MoEF: Remove Chairman of Expert Appraisal Committee on Dams for conflict of Interest: He is DG of NWDA

May 30, 2017

To:

Dr. Harsh Vardhan,

Union Minister of State of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (Independent Charge)

Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh, Delhi 110 003

dr.harshvardhan@sansad.nic.in, ps2mefcc@gov.in (PS to MoEF Minister)

 

Respected Sir,

We have just learnt that Prof Sharad Jain of NIH, Roorkee, and chairman of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydropower Projects (RVP), is also holding additional charge of DG of NWDA, see: http://www.nwda.gov.in/writereaddata/linkimages/6419983647.pdf. His office just told one of us that he has been holding this charge since about three months already.

This is a clear case of conflict of interest. As you know, a number of NWDA projects come to EAC for approval at various stages. One such project that came before the EAC headed by Dr. Jain was the Ken Betwa project, which the committee headed by Dr. Jain promptly cleared in very first meeting of the reconstituted EAC in Dec 2016, weeks before Dr. Jain took over as Director General of NWDA, over ruling the issues that earlier four meetings of the EAC had raised about this project. How can one expect that the EAC chairman would be able to objectively, independently and scientifically appraise a project of the organisation (NWDA in this case) of which he is the Director General?

Under the circumstances, we believe there is no option, except that you must ask Dr. Jain to resign from his post as chairman of EAC, as his holding additional charge of NWDA DG, and already in conflict of interest. We also request you to ask the EAC to review their decision about Ken Betwa Project (and any other NWDA project) that the current EAC may have appraised, after appointing a new chairman of EAC.

We would like to bring to your attention that there is already a precedent in this context when in 2009, the then chairman of the EAC (RVP), Dr P Abraham was asked to resign since he was also director of hydropower companies whose projects came before EAC headed by him.

We hope you will act promptly on this issue. There is some urgency of this since the next meeting of EAC (RVP) is on May 31, 2017, that is tomorrow.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

1. Prof Brij Gopal (Retired Prof from JNU, Delhi), Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia, Jaipur, brij44@gmail.com

2. Dr E A S Sarma, former Secretary, Govt of India, Vishakhapatnam, eassarma@gmail.com

3. Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala (Formerly with IIM Bangalore), Uttarakhand, bharatjj@gmail.com

4. Vimal Bhai, MATU jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand, bhaivimal@gmail.com

5. Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune, manthan.shripad@gmail.com

6. Dr Raghu Chundawat & Joanna Van Gruisen, Baavan, Bagh Aap Aur Van Trust, Panna, Bundelkhand, joannavg@gmail.com

7. Pushp Jain, Director, ERC Resource Centre, Delhi, pushp@ercindia.org

8. Gunjan Mishra, Banda,  Bundelkhand, mishra.gunjan22@gmail.com

9. Dipani Sutaria, (James Cook University, Australia), Ahmedabad, dipani.sutaria@gmail.com

10. Dr. A.J.T Johnsingh, Bengaluru, ajt.johnsingh@gmail.com

11. Suman Jumani, Senior Research Fellow, Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning, Bengaluru, sumanjumani@gmail.com

12. Manu Bhatnagar, Delhi, manucentaur@hotmail.com

13. Cara Tejpal, Sanctuary Nature Foundation, Mumbai, cara@sanctuaryasia.com

14. Siddharth Agarwal, Veditum India Foundation, Kolkata, siddharthagarwal.iitkgp@gmail.com

15. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, Delhi.

ht.sandrp@gmail.com, 09968242798

16. Dr Bhartendu Prakash, Kisan Vigyan Kendra & Grameen Vigyan Vikas Trust, Bundelkhand, UP, brsc2008@gmail.com

17. Dr Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala, latha.anantha9@gmail.com

18. Theophilus, Munsiari, Uttarakhand, etheophilus@gmail.com

19. K Ramnarayan, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand, ramnarayan.k@gmail.com

20. Malika Virdi, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand, malika.virdi@gmail.com

21. Prof Sunil Kumar Choudhary,Prof. & Head, University Dept. of Botany, T. M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur, sunil_vikramshila@yahoo.co.in, 09431875861

Copy to: 1. EAC (River Valley Projects) members

2. Prime Minister’s office

MEDIA COVERAGE:

  1. June 1, 2017: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/chief-of-eac-on-rivers-faces-conflict-of-interest-charge/articleshow/58937121.cms
  2. June 1, 2017: https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/environment/2017/05/31/ken-betwa-river-linking-project-a-clear-case-of-conflict-of-interest
A fabulous view of Ken river. Nesting sites of Long-billed vultures are to the right. All will go under water if Ken-Betwa linkup is carried out,AJT Johnsingh
CAG Report · Environment Impact Assessment · Environmental Flow · Expert Appraisal Committee · Hydropower · Ministry of Environment and Forests · River Valley Projects

CAG validates concerns about shoddy environmental appraisal of Dams

In an unprecedented first ever Audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) which recently conducted Performance Audit on ‘Environmental Clearance and Post Clearance Monitoring’ has unambiguously stated that the existing processes for grant of Environmental Clearance are fraught with serious violations, noncompliance and deficiencies.[i] In fact River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects have been highlighted for poorest quality of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Reports, maximum irregularities during Public Hearings, and non-compliance of Environmental Clearance conditions.

This is a resounding slap on the face of the functioning of the current and past Expert Appraisal Committee’s (EACs on Dams and vindicates and validates what SANDRP and other civil society groups have been saying for long. This is indeed much needed critical feedback when EAC is seeking to make its proceedings less and less transparent and providing false justifications for the same. Continue reading “CAG validates concerns about shoddy environmental appraisal of Dams”

Expert Appraisal Committee · River Valley Projects

Why the Decisions and minutes of the 86th meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects need to be reviewed

September 22, 2015

To

Chairman and Members,

Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects,

Ministry of Environment and Forests,

New Delhi

Respected Chairman and Members,

We have just seen the minutes of the 86th meeting (uploaded on Sept 14, 2015, but clearance letters in some cases have already been issued even before the EAC minutes are made public or the minutes are finalised at the next EAC meeting) of the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Committee, held on Aug 24-25, 2015.

The minutes make a disturbing reading. The EAC seems to be bending every ecological norm, facts and even legal stipulations to push ahead with every project that the government wants them to clear. There seems to be no application of mind from the EAC on the proposals. The minutes are not even internally consistent. It is putting forward facts in misleading fashion to give a wrong picture. Continue reading “Why the Decisions and minutes of the 86th meeting of EAC on River Valley Projects need to be reviewed”