Mr Nitin Gadkari has been given the charge of this ministry in addition to his current charge of Ministry of Surface Transport. The first thing that strikes about Mr Gadkari is that as minister in current government he has been strong advocate for use of rivers for inland navigation and he also achieved through an act in Parliament, listing of 111 main stretches of rivers for this purpose. In the initial few months of this government in power, he actually publicly said that he wants to build a barrage every 100 km along Ganga, which he latter said could be done every 50 km. The impact of one existing such barrage on Ganga for navigation, namely Farakka is well known, and it is so severe that MPs and now even Bihar’s current Chief Minister have been demanding decommissioning of the barrage. Indeed, there are huge social and environmental impacts of use of rivers for navigation, but Mr Gadkari’s ministry has been pushing the case that there is no need for even social and environmental impact assessment of the inland navigation plans or activities. Now it will be interesting to see what does Mr Gadkari says about this as Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. If past is any guide, it does seem that Ganga, Brahmaputra and other rivers on the list of inland navigation could be in for greater deterioration rather improvement.
Union Minister of State of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (Independent Charge)
Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh, Delhi 110 003
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (PS to MoEF Minister)
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.
1. Prof Brij Gopal (Retired Prof from JNU, Delhi), Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia, Jaipur, email@example.com
2. Dr E A S Sarma, former Secretary, Govt of India, Vishakhapatnam, firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala (Formerly with IIM Bangalore), Uttarakhand, email@example.com
4. Vimal Bhai, MATU jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand, firstname.lastname@example.org