Sunday, March 20, 2011

INDIA: Environment assessment is a joke, says Jairam; wants 3rd party EIA

Hyderabad, March 19
“The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in the current form is a bit of a joke as it is self-assessment by the company. Instead, we will have a third party EIA,” Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment and Forests, said.
Speaking to reporters at the CII-Green Business Centre, Mr Ramesh said, “I have been concerned about this. Supreme Court also expressed its concerns. We want a cumulative EIA.”
“We have blacklisted three consultants for their wrong reports. Therefore, we would prefer a third party EIA for power, coal and multi-sector projects. The MoEF will seek third party assessment. The present system is deeply flawed,” he said.
Mentioning the clearance accorded to the Posco project in Orissa and the proposed nuclear plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, the Minister said both the clearances are conditional. In the case of nuclear power plant, third party assessment was done by NEERI and they have been directed to conform to at least 35 conditions.


The satellite imagery assessment of costal areas of four States where a large number of projects are coming up, including ports and power, will be concluded within two months, he said.
The Ministry had initiated a project to assess the impact of projects coming up along the coast in Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
“We have completed work on three States and Andhra Pradesh is expected to be covered within two months. This impact assessment study will enable us to estimate the degradation and sensitivity along some of the coastal areas of these States,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Mr Ramesh said this imagery will facilitate a comprehensive environment analysis and ensure the preservation of precious natural resources in coastal areas. “We now have a new Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2011 notified on June 6. This has to be complied with,” he explained.
Referring to the two AP power projects at Sompeta of (NCC Ltd) and Kakrapalli (East Coast Energy), he said they have been served notice. “I must admit the recent firing incident did move me. I have begun to grapple with the next moves,” he said.
The Supreme Court decision on the Ministry stand on Nirma's cement plant in Gujarat has been vindicated.


Andhra Pradesh is yet to conduct public hearing for Polavaram wherein villages in Chhattisgarh and Orissa will get submerged. The State has, however, agreed to construct a 30-km long wall along Sabari and Sileru rivers.
The clearance for Polavaram was conditional. The State Government was told to handle relief and rehabilitation simultaneously. Unless they take up public hearing it would be difficult to take this forward, he said.

This film is a call for tribal solidarity. It reveals the approaching trauma of two lakh tribals who will be displaced under the Polavaram Dam Project on river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, India. The project is estimated to submerge four hundred villages and four thousand hectres of forest in Dandakaranya. Large-scale projects often created islands of development in the midst of under-development perpetuating regional imbalances. Past experiences have shown that development paradigms are often discriminatory against the tribal communities and other marginalized sections of society. Development is meaningful only when it is sustainable. India needs an alternative way of development which combines traditional methods with environmentally sustainable technologies. Only then will it be able to sustain its diverse cultures and promote the welfare of the tribals.

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