[Feature image: Cartoon on Draft EIA 2020 by Surendra, The Hindu https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/cartoon/cartoonscape-august-12-2020/article32328005.ece (12 Aug. 2020)]
This last week, one Contempt of Court case was deservedly in news, when on the eve of India’s 74th Independence day, the apex Court found public spirited Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of Court. Prashant Bhushan’s commitment for the cause of the people and responsible governance of various institutions is beyond question. He is known for being critical of the government and judiciary’s track record and is supported in this by most independent minded persons.
However, there was another contempt case this last week, related to environmental issues, that was not so much in the news. On June 30, 2020, Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in response to petition by environmentalist Vikrant Tongad had directed, among other things, that Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) should translate the Draft EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification of 2020 into all the official languages of India and disseminate widely in ten days. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-hc-extends-public-response-deadline-to-draft-eia-2020/article31951610.ece)
Continue reading “DRP NB 17 August 2020: The Contempt of Court case against MoEF”
INDEED. With all the emphasis available at our command. We are in the midst of the rainiest season and such a statement is indeed music. It would become even more melodious if one knows who said it: it was none other than Mr G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Water Mission, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India who said it. Speaking on July 8, 2020, he said: “Rainwater harvesting has become inevitable in the current scenario of water scarcity across the country… The idea is to save the rainwater be it on the rooftop, compounds, and premises.” Mr Kumar also emphasised the importance of groundwater recharge.
We can pass it as run-of-the-mill statement from the government, but one is tempted to think there is more to it than that. One wishes if there was a way to hold these officials accountable for such statements and ask as to how this translates into policies, projects and practices. There is no evidence of any of these, unfortunately. Unless we were to interpret it cynically the way Central Water Commission ideologues do: Dams are also rain water harvesting structures! By that definition, even river linking is also rain water harvesting structure!! But Mr Kumar do not seem to suggest that. So let us hold on to this statement optimistically and push the water resources establishment to implement through right policies, practices and projects. Since that is where solution to India’s water problem indeed is. Unfortunately so far there is no sign that this wisdom is accepted in any serious way by the water resources establishment.
Continue reading “DRP NB 13 July 2020: “Rainwater harvesting is key to solving India’s water woes””
The MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects in its meeting in January 2017 recommended Environmental Clearance (EC) to the controversial 3097 MW Etalin Hydropower project in Dibang River Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. However, since the stage I forest clearance to Etalin HEP has not yet been accorded, the EC letter has not yet been issued. Hence there is an opportunity to stop EC to the project till the EAC reviews its decision.
It may be noted that Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) in its meeting on April 23, 2020, has decided in the context of Etalin Project: “As this is a large sized project in the Himalayas, inputs of IA (Impact Assessment) Division of the Ministry on whether environmental impacts of the proposed project and mitigating measures have been considered, will be obtained.” This provides an opportunity for the MoEF to direct the IA Division and EAC to review its decision to recommend EC to the Etalin Project.
Continue reading “Open letter to MoEF & River Valley EAC: Review Recommendation to grant EC to Etalin HEP”
WII skips multi-seasonal study on Etalin, cheats its way to compile a conservation plan; MoEFCC and FAC ignore all FANTASTIC REPORT The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) spent only four months on field while compiling a multi-seasonal replicate study on the Jindals’ 3097 mw Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Ltd (EHEPCL) in Dibang Valley in Arunachal, and it relied on earlier studies conducted in the region. The forest advisory committee (FAC) of the union ministry of environment, forests & climate change (MoEFCC) and the ministry itself did not bother to ask any questions as to how the study was compiled, even though one of its own reports states that four months’ study was carried out. Instead, the FAC formed a subcommittee to look into the “concerns related to tree enumeration process and the aspects highlighted in biodiversity assessments study by WII.” The wildlife study done by the WII is accepted in toto by the subcommittee, the subcommittee report says. The subcommittee included a member of the WII who was part of the team that cheated its way to compile a questionable report on Etalin. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2020/05/03/wii-skips-multi-seasonal-study-on-etalin-cheats-its-way-to-compile-a-conservation-plan-moefcc-and-fac-ignore-all/ (03 May 2020)
Continue reading “DRP NB 04 May 2020: Wildlife Institute of India doing quid pro quo with hydro developers?”
The Supreme Court order asking for fresh environment clearance and fresh Environment Impact Assessment for the Peripheral Ring Road project in Bengaluru is remarkable and most welcome, even though it is not directly related to water issues. The order is relevant since we have yet to find what can be called an honest Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for River Valley Projects and yet the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects happily clears ALL the projects that come their way, even with most fraudulent EIAs. We are hoping against hope that this apex Court judgement will be a precursor to many such orders and judgements and general warning against fraudulent EIAs and EACs. We hope it is not too much to ask that the EIA be an honest effort and the EAC that does not reject fraudulent EIAs should also be dumped and members black listed. We hope we have such orders from the judiciary soon.
Continue reading “DRP NB 23 March 2020: Welcome SC order asks for fresh EIA: Will Judiciary be equally strong against all fraudulent EIAs?”
Guest Blog by Shripad Dharmadhikary& Ram Wangkheirakpam
The Loktak Inland Waterways Improvement Project (LIWIP) essentially aims to extend and expand the motorised inland transport on the Loktak Lake wetland, by augmenting the machinery and equipment that will clear the lake of all obstructions to the water transport. It promises to be a “community welfare” project, with the benefits including growth in trade and commerce, eco-tourism and livelihoods and job creation, all due to the motorised water transport that will increase the ease and means of transport. Continue reading “Critique of the Loktak Inland Waterways Improvement Project”
इन दिनों हरियाणा के यमुना नगर जिले में यमुना नदी में बड़े पैमाने पर जमकर अवैज्ञानिक और अवैध तरीके से पत्थर, रेत खनन हो रहा है। जिसके कारण यमुना नदी का अस्तित्व खतरे में पड़ गया है। नदी से पत्थर-रेत निकालने के लिए भारत सरकार द्वारा बनाए गए सभी कानूनों को ताक पर रखा जा रहा है। परन्तु जिला प्रशासन और सम्बंधित विभाग मामले पर मौन साधे बैठे हैं।
हाल ही में खनन प्रभावित क्षेत्र के भ्रमण के दौरान, हमने देखा की कई बड़े वाहन नदी से भारी मात्रा में कीमती रेत ढुलान में लगे हैं। नदी की प्राकृतिक धारा को किसी जगह रोका गया है और किसी जगह पर मोड़ा गया है। बड़ी बड़ी जेसीबी और भीमकाय मशीनें बेतरतीबी से नदी तल से रेत खोदने में व्यस्त हैं। जगह जगह रेत के टीलें बने हुए हैं। कई स्थानों पर नदी में विशालकाय गढ्डे बन गए हैं। तो अन्य जगह नदी को बड़े तालाब में बदल दिया गया है। एक तरह से नदी नाम की कोई चीज देखने को नहीं मिली। नदी के स्थान पर रेत के ढ़ेर, जलकुंड और मशीनों और ट्रकों का शोर-शराबा ही देखने और सुनने को मिला।
Continue reading “यमुना 2019: खनन से खतरे में पड़ा नदी और लोगों का जीवन”
The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in a most path breaking, remarkable report to the Supreme Court on the Ken Betwa Link Project Phase I (KBLP-I), on Aug 30, 2019 has raised fundamental questions not only on the appropriateness of the Wildlife Clearance given to the project, but also the viability, optimality and desirability of the project. This a massive, fatal setback for the KBLP-I. We hope the government wakes up to the reality and shelves the project and immediately goes for more viable, quicker, cost effective and less damaging options for Bundelkhand. We also hope the CEC continues to look at the other projects and applications that come their way with the same vigour and forthrightness that they have shown in this report. Continue reading “Fatal setback for Ken Betwa Link Project from CEC”
At least 40% of India is facing worst drought of 30-40 years as per various researchers. A very large part of that happening in areas that are focus of India’s dam building. These areas are facing drought in spite of so much dam building. But the official agencies never saw the link. Its heartening to see some media reports and edits have started recognising the elephant in the room. Hope this is change for the better and if the media continues to highlight the situation and linkages, may be, may be we will also see impact on the governments. A silver-lining as they say in otherwise dark situation.
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 20 May 2019: This drought, Big Dams Elephants recognised by media”
Field Observation Report, 20-21 April 2019 at Lakhwar Multipurpose Dam Project, Lohari and Vyasi Hydro Electric Project, Juddo. This author, also an applicant in NGT petition, visited the Lakhwar and Vyasi project area before the sub committee of MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley Projects visited the site on Apr 22, 2019.
The proposed site of Multipurpose Lakhwar dam project was seen affected with multiple landslides. One such fresh landslide was seen right at the site where the 204 meter high dam is supposed to be built. Locals revealed that many of the landslides in and around the location have become perennial.
Continue reading “Lakhwar & Vyasi Dam: Different reality before the window dressing for EAC”