Skip to main content

Modi to kick-start $87 billion river inter-linking project "without eco-clearance", top environmentalist objects

By Our Representative
Is the Government of India set to go ahead with its controversial $87 billion Ket-Betwa scheme to connect two major rivers without environmental clearance? It would seem so if, following a major report on this, facts revealed by senior environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar are any indication.
The scheme involves construction of a dam on the Ken river, also known as the Karnavati, in north-central India and a 22-km (14-mile) canal connecting it to the shallow Betwa. Both rivers flow through vast areas of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, both under BJP rule. The project is supposed to provide the initial boost, required for other proposed river interlinking projects.
Thakkar, taking strong exception to the reported  clearance of the the project, says, "The environmental clearance does not exist, final forest clearance does not exist, conditional wild life clearance is under scrutiny by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which is to be followed by Supreme Court scrutiny and inter-state agreement between MP and UP."
In fact, Thakkar says, "The actual Environmental Clearance letter is yet to be issued", something for which one has to just see "the the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change's (MoEFCC's) Environmental Clearance website", adding, all other clearances are conditional and not valid till forest and wildlife recommendations happen.
Worse, says Thakkar, even the are environmental public hearings for the the canal and the downstream affected areas, as required for clearing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which, according to him is "flawed". Given all these facts, Thakkar says, the claim that there exists a Cabinet note to allow the project to go ahead has little meaning, as the Cabinet note "is not a statutory document."
Despite these steps, considered necessary for moving ahead with the project, Modi is said to have personally pushed through clearances for its first phase of the project, "despite opposition from environmentalists, tiger lovers and a former royal family." Sanjeev Balyan, the junior water resources minister, has been quoted as saying that “we have got clearances in record time, with the last round of clearances coming in only this year,”
The 425-km Ken flows through a tiger reserve, with the government planning to clear out 6.5% of the forest reserve to build the dam, relocating nearly 2,000 families from 10 villages. Further, the proposed 77-metre high, 2-km long dam on the Ken River will submerge 9,000 hectares of mostly forest land. A big portion will come from the Panna Tiger Reserve, near the UNESCO world heritage site of Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh. The forest reserve, a major tourist attraction, is home to 30-35 tigers and nearly 500 vultures.
Yet, there are indications that the Union Cabinet is likely to give its final go-ahead for the project within a couple of weeks, after which Modi would flag off construction at the site, which is situated "about 805 km (500 miles) from New Delhi, currently marked only by rows of red concrete slabs placed on the ground."
This will be followed by the government "finishing up paperwork on projects in western India linking the Par-Tapi with the Narmada and the Daman Ganga with the Pinjal. The projects involve Modi’s home state of Gujarat and neighbouring Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, both also ruled by the BJP."
The river-linking projects was contemplated under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981. Repeated attempts to go ahead with its different components got stalled because state governments sparred over water sharing contracts. This time, officials wonder, starting with projects that are all in BJP-ruled states would see "smooth negotiations."

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

India's "welcome" proposal to impose sin tax on aerated drinks is part of to fight growing sugar consumption

By Amit Srivastava* A proposal to tax sugar sweetened beverages like tobacco in India has been welcomed by public health advocates. The proposal to increase sin taxes on aerated drinks is part of the recommendations made by India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the parliament of India.