Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Highway Authority report for Vadodara-Mumbai expressway wants clearances for Ganga Expressway, UP!

By Our Representative
A recent letter by Gujarat’s environmental organization, Paryavaran Mitra, to Dr V Rajagopal, secretary, ministry of environment and forests, Government of India, has revealed roughshod manner in which Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for different developmental projects are prepared in India. Referring to the EIA report proposed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway Project, the top environmental group has said, “The consultants for the NHAI have done a simple copy paste job", and “taken shortcut by copying and pasting the project descriptions from similar project of Ganga Expressway.”
Calling this as “the violation of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) office memorandum No J-11013/41/2006-IA.II (I) dated October 5, 2011, regarding ownership of EIA report and other documents”, the letter gives two different instances of how the copy paste job has been done in a very haphazard manner. Enclosing printouts of the pages where this copy paste has been done, the letter says: “On page 1-6 of the draft EIA report, point 1.1 Environmental Regulatory Frame Work, it is mentioned ‘Table 1.2 Clearances and Permissions required for Ganga Expressway Project’.”
Then, on “page 7-3 of the draft EIA report under Development of Agriculture, it says “Expressway will also help in import of new techniques of agriculture to most backward areas of Uttar Pradesh”. The letter adds, “As Ganga Expressway was a project of Uttar Pradesh, so mention of Ganga Expressway and Uttar Pradesh in the report shows that that the consultants have forgotten to replace it while doing copy paste”!
The letter quotes the MoEF office memorandum, No. J-11013/41/2006-IA.II (I) dated October 5, 2011, regarding ownership of EIA report and other documents by project proponent, which says, “If at any stage, it is observed or brought to the notice of this ministry that the contents of the EIA report pertaining to a project have been copied from other EIA reports, such projects shall be summarily rejected and the proponent will have to initiate the process afresh including conduct of public hearing.”
The letter also quotes the notification to say that, besides these actions, “separate action will be initiated to delist such consultants from the list of accredited consultants.” The letter, signed by Paryavaran Mitra director Mahesh Pandya, insists that “in view of the above, it is our strong demand that this entire project must be shelved for the time being and all the procedures be started afresh. Also, we request you to take strict action against the consultant to set an example for other consultants.”
Working in Gujarat as voluntary organization in the field of environment and industrial pollution issues since 1997, Paryavaran Mitra has been involved in reviewing of EIA report and participation in environmental public hearing (EPH), which is based on EIA, across the state. The NHAI has proposed to construct a new 6/8 lane Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway passing through Vadodra, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari and Valsad districts of Gujarat. The EPH of all districts of which was held in last week of February. EIA report of this project has been prepared by Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.
Paryavaran Mitra has claimed, it has “written various letters to the NHAI regarding various violations of EIA notification by this project.” Despite the fact that EPH was held, it adds, their minutes have “not yet uploaded even after two weeks of the public hearing…” Now, with the new proof, it is clear that the “consultants have copied the EIA report from some other document.” The letter has been forwarded to the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET), New Delhi, which gives accreditation to consultants to prepare EIA.

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