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”
Guest Blog by Manoj Misra
Apropos Sri Pravir Pandey (Vice Chairman, IWAI) article (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-won-t-choke-rivers/story-3CTflDhyTxijS5AAqlQeqO.html) in HT (The Hindustan Times) dated 24 Jan 2019 rejecting our serious reservations (https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/the-inland-waterways-project-will-destroy-india-s-rivers/story-8TDyHX1UuzQzKwWhHXQVPJ.html) expressed earlier (HT, 4 Jan 2019) on the claimed merits of the Inland Waterways Transportation (IWT) project. While welcoming IWAI’s presumed willingness to debate the matter, we reject Sri Pandey’s contentions in their entirety as having been made on rhetoric and ‘confidential’ assessments rather than on sound and convincing facts.
There are two key considerations which require attention before merit, if any, could be found in a potentially impactful project like the IWT. First are of course its financial viability and the second and much more critical are its environmental impacts.
In a shocking revelation, Jay Mazoomaar in this Indian Express report exposes how Wildlife Institute of India not only accepted consultancies from hydropower companies, but also diluted the mandate for the studies for given by statutory bodies like NGT, NBWL and FAC, but also provided compromised reports catering to the interests of the hydropower developers, thus trying to clear the way for the two controversial mega hydropower projects, one each in Dibang and Lohit river basins in Arunachal Pradesh. https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/arunachal-pradesh/wildlife-institute-all-for-hydel-projects-in-arunachal-pradeshs-tiger-zone-5499656/
In case of the 3097 MW Etalin project being developed by Jindal and Arunachal Pradesh govt, the IE report says: “the WII was asked by the Ministry (MoEF) to assess the feasibility of the plan that requires 1,166 hectares of forestland in the valley. The Ministry’s move followed a recommendation from its Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) to conduct an environment impact assessment study. Instead, the WII initiated a study to find how the project’s impact on wildlife can be minimised”. Thus instead of doing the mandated scientific impact assessment, the WII initiated a study to minimise the project’s impact.
Dams and reservoirs make rivers sediment-starved and menacing manifold downstream. While heavy rainfall is also a key factor behind the floods, hungry water had a more pronounced effect, says D. Padmalal, Scientist and Head, Hydrological process group, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.
– “When the sediment transport is interrupted, the potential energy of the hungry water released from dams will scour the river banks downstream, uprooting trees or riparian vegetation and damaging bridges and other engineering structures,” explains Dr. Padmalal. Overloaded with silt and clay from the eroding river banks, the highly turbid and viscous water clogs drainage channels. Subsequent discharge of water from the dam will lead to inundation and waterlogging of large areas.
– Hungry water can also develop in high gradient river channels devoid of adequate quantity of sand and gravel, especially during periods of high rainfall. “Years of uncontrolled sand mining have left most of the rivers in Kerala depleted or exhausted of sand and gravel. This creates a situation similar to the release of hungry water from dams,” notes Dr. Padmalal. When the river channel has adequate supply of sand and gravel, the potential energy of the water is used to transport the mixture. The water does not scour the banks or turn muddy.
The Chairman and members,
The Expert Appraisal Committee,
River Valley Projects,
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Govt of India,
Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110 003
Sub: Urgent submission regarding the Environmental Clearance for the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project in Uttarakhand and Nepal.
Dear Chairman & Members of the Expert Appraisal Committee,
This is to bring to your notice, and to place on record, some serious concerns related to the Environmental Clearance of the proposed 5040 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. The concerns are both, on Points of Order, as well as observations on and serious flaws in the Environmental Impact Assessment report submitted by WAPCOS.
Above: Part of proposed Ken-Betwa link submergence area (Photo by Joanna Van Gruisen)
Shri. Anil Madhav Dave
Honourable Minister of State (Independent Charge),
Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, New Delhi – 110003
May 2, 2017
Please consider this joint letter (See PDF file with logos here: Letter to MoEF Ken Betwa 020517) from an informal coalition of environment and wildlife organisations as a collective note of protest against the proposed Ken-Betwa River Link Project. Continue reading “Open Letter of Protest on Ken Betwa Project to MoEF”
December 27, 2016
(Above: Location of Proposed Human Dam and the tiger Corridor cutting across (Map by GREENPEACE) ( Source:http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/2011/Report-Undermining-Tadoba’s-Tigers.pdf)
While Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) has been undergoing inquiry by Anti Corruption Bureau and facing a Public Interest Litigation for financial irregularities & cost escalations exposed during the irrigation scam of 2012, the State Government of Maharashtra continues to push new projects in the ecologically sensitive region of Vidarbha.
State Government of Maharashtra has decided to give yet another try to revive Human River Project, a major irrigation project proposed on the Human River near Sirkada Village of Sindewahi Taluka, Dist. Chandrapur. Human dam with storage capacity of about 247 MCM (Million Cubic Meters) plans to irrigate 46,117.00 ha. for which it will submerge 7651.11 ha of land. This disproportionately large submergence (nearly 16% of the proposed irrigation!) also includes 1925.55 Ha of rich full grown forest of Vidarbha. (which is nearly 4.2% of the proposed irrigation!) (Earlier figure for forest submergence in print media and few other documents was 1535.85 ha. But latest official documents mention 1925.55 Ha)
Human River is a tributary of the Andhari River that merges into the Wainganga. The reservoir that will be created after impoundment of the waters will be just 4.25 km from the boundaries of the Tadoba National Park and 3.2 km. from the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary, both of which form the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), a vital area for tiger conservation in central India. The proposed dam falls in the Eco-Sensitive Zone of TATR and thus needs National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) clearance.
The project is being pushed by Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is currently a State Cabinet Minister of Finance, Planning, and Forest Departments in the Government of Maharashtra. State Government is seeking clearance from State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) before it could be sent to NBWL for approval. In September 2014 a four-member high-powered committee constituted by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to visit Human dam site at Sirkada, 3.5km from TATR in Chandrapur district.[i] The meeting in which the decision was taken to revive the project was held due to Mungantiwar’s follow up with then Minister of Environment Prakash Javadekar.[ii]
The report of the committee has been kept under wraps till date. Continue reading “State plans to take up Human dam in eco-sensitive region of Vidarbha while existing projects in vicinity remain incomplete”
Above: 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, Photo by AJT Johnsingh
November 3, 2015
Chairman & Members, NBWL Standing Committee, MoEF&CC, New Delhi
Respected Chairman and members,
We have just learnt that NBWL standing committee is to meet tomorrow, that is Nov 4, 2015 and one of the proposals that the NBWL is to consider is the Ken Betwa River Link proposal INSIDE Panna Tiger Reserve. We are unable to find the agenda, agenda papers and names and contact details of the NWBL SC members. Prudent, transparent and democratic decision making requires that these should be in public domain at least two weeks in advance of the NWBL meeting, so that all concerned from any part of the nation can know about this, and write to NBWL with their views and concerns. We hope MoEF, full NBWL and NBWL standing committee will take urgent steps to ensure that until this minimum requirement is satisfied, no meeting of NBWL or NBWL SC is held, and we request you postpone the meeting proposed on Nov 4, 2015 till this requirement is fulfilled. Continue reading “Open Letter to NBWL Standing Committee Members: Why NBWL should not consider Ken Betwa River Link Proposal”
4 August 2014
- Shri. Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India and Chairperson, National Board for Wildlife
- Shri. Prakash Javadekar,
Minister of State of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (IC) and
Chairperson, Standing Committee, National Board for Wildlife
- Shri. V. Rajagopalan,
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
- Shri. S. S. Garbyal,
Director General of Forests and Special Secretary,
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Subject: Request to urgently amend the flawed constitution of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) as indicated in Notification issued by MoEF dated 22 July 2014 & not hold any meetings based on this flawed notification.
Respected Prime Minister, Hon. Minister and Sirs,
It is with great concern that we write to you about the constitution of the new NBWL as indicated in the Government Notification dated 22ndJuly 2014.
The term of the previous NBWL and its standing committee ended in Sept 2013, as was noted by the then chairperson of the standing committee and recorded in the minutes of the latest (Sept 2013) meeting of the standing committee (see: http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/MOM-30-NBWL-04.09.2013.pdf): “At the outset, Hon’ble Chairperson while welcoming all participants to the 30th Meeting of Standing Committee of NBWL expressed deep appreciation of the contribution of the non-official members in the meetings of the Standing Committee of NBWL and their selfless dedication for the cause of conservation. She added that the present term of NBWL was coming to an end on 5th September 2013 and that the discussions and deliberations made by the present members during the Standing Committee of NBWL meetings had helped the Chair in taking judicious decisions.” (Emphasis added.)
So country was without NBWL and standing committee for more than the ast ten months and the country expected that the government would constitute a proper NBWL honouring the letter and spirit of the Wildlife Protection Act and the need to protect wildlife and biodiversity in protected areas. The concerned people of the country stand disappointed by the July 22, 2014 notification.
At the outset, the Notification dated 22 July 2014 is ambiguous about the constitution of the NBWL and its Standing Committee. It is not even available on MoEF website. The notification seems to be in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act in letter and spirit and is not in the interest of the wildlife, biodiversity or protected areas in the country. A comparative reading of Sept 2003, May 2007 and Sept 2010 notifications of the MoEF about constituting NBWL further strengthen this view.
The notification only mentions a small subset of the NBWL members as listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002. The limited list is in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and its subsequent amendment in 2002 by way of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002. The Director General of Forests is on record having said that this is the entire NBWL. (Please see:http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/new-national-wildlife-board-flouted-wlpa-guidelines/article6261988.ece) This confirms the illegality of the notification.
We would respectfully like to submit that a notification issued by the government cannot override or violate an Act passed by the Parliament, with the ascent of the Hon. President of the Union of India.
Main points of divergence between Wildlife (Protection)Amendment Act, 2002 and the Notification issued on 22nd July, 2014 are as follows:
- Clause (e) of the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 2002 states:
“(e) five persons to represent non-governmental organisations to be nominated by the Central Government”
However, the Notification dated 22 July 2014 does not nominate any NGO. The only name notification gives for NGO member, namely GEER is not an NGO.
The nominated “Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Gandhinagar, Gujarat” is a Gujarat Government organisation and not an NGO. Its website is http://www.geerfoundation.gujarat.gov.in, says, it has been “set up in 1982 by the Forests & Environment Department, Government of Gujarat” and the Chairperson of its board is Chief Minister of Gujarat while majority board members too are from Gujarat Government. Thus GEER stands disqualified from being nominated as an NGO.
- Clause (f) of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 states:
“(f) ten persons to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst eminent conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists”
However, the notification dated 22 July 2014 replaces this by just two people.
“(i) Prof. Raman Sukumar,
(ii) Dr. H.S. Singh.”
- Clause (v) of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 states:
“v) one representative each from ten States and Union territories by rotation, to be nominated by the Central Government”
However, the notification dated 22 July 2014 replaces this with just five states.
In view of the above, the notification dated 22 July 2014 violates Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002 and should be urgently taken back. Any meetings or any decisions taken by this board will not stand legal scrutiny.
Apart from the legal issue, it is important for a board like NBWL to have a broader regional representation of independent experts, NGOs and members and this was one of the the objectives behind nominating these members on the NBWL and its standing committee. We hope that the government will appreciate this issue. Indian Wildlife, biodiversity and its habitat like the protected areas, forests, rivers, wetlands, etc., are under tremendous pressure and we hope the new government is committed to conserve our rich wildlife heritage.
We therefore look forward to urgent action on the points mentioned above by immediately taking back the 22nd July 2014 Notification and replacing it with a notification that spells out constitution of NBWL respecting the WLPA in letter and spirit and also respecting India’s wildlife and its dwindling habitat. We hope that no meetings of the NBWL happen before a correct constitution of the board.
Looking forward to your response on the points raised above.
|1.||Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group||Pune|
|2.||Dr. Bhaskar Acharya, Researcher, Bangalore||Bangalore|
|3.||Dr. Sunil K. Choudhary||University Dept. of BotanyT.M.Bhagalpur UniversityBhagalpur-812007, India|
|4.||Dr. Rajeev Raghavan South Asia Co-Chair, IUCN SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist GroupMember, IUCN SSC Red List CommitteeMember, IUCN WCPA/SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas|
|6.||Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, 09968242798||Delhi|
|9.||Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre,||Kerala|
|10.||Cara Tejpal, Conservationist||Delhi|
|11.||Girish A. Punjabi, Researcher,||Pune|
|12.||Nachiket Kelkar, Ecologist||Bangalore|
|13.||Shardul Bajikar, Ecologist, Mumbai||Mumbai|
|14.||Adv. Indavi Tulpule||Murbad, Thane|
|16.||Vijay Diwan, Aurangabad Social Forum||Aurangabad|
|17.||Manshi Asher, Himdhara,||Himachal Pradesh,|
|18.||Jitn Yumnam, Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur, Centre for Research and Advocacy||Imphal, Manipur|
|19.||Samir Mehta, River Basin Friends||Mumbai|
|20.||Bharat Seth, International Rivers||Delhi|
|21.||Joy KJ, SOPPECOM||Pune|
|23.||Ravi, Namita and Medha Potluri.|
|29.||Dr. V K Gupta|
|33.||Dipu Karuthedathu,Member BNHS, Co-Moderator of keralabirder egroups||301, Jaya Emerald, Maruthinagar, Bangalore|
|34.||Aditya Panda Naturalist | Wildlife Conservationist | Photographer||Bhubaneswar|
|47.||Jassal J S|
|49.||Ranjan Panda, Water Initiatives, Odisha||Sambalpur, Odisha|
|50.||Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, 09860030742||Pune|
51. Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma, Delhi
52. Rohit Prajapati, Prayavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
53. Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Landscape Ecologist, Bangalore
54. Goa Foundation, Goa
55. Mhadei Research Centre, Goa
56. Shankar Sharma, Karnataka
57. Sahil Nijhawan, Delhi
58. C. Udayshankar, Andhra Pradesh
59. M.D. Khattar
60. Kaustuv Chatterjee
61. Shri Santosh Martin, ex-honorary wildlife warden, Bellary district, UP
62. Ms. Carmen Miranda, Chair, Save Goa Campaign UK, London
63. Nandikesh Sivalingam, GreenPeace India