Select Independent persons with clean track report in transparent way:
Do not select any of the current EAC members
Over 50 individuals and organisations from 15 states all over India have written a letter to the minister and secretary in Union Ministry of Environment and forests about their concerns when the MoEF selects members of the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley Projects. The signatories include eminent persons like Prashant Bhushan, Akhil Gogoi, Ramaswamy Iyer, EAS Sarma, Vandana Shiva, Prof M K Prasad and Bittu Sehgal. At least eight organisations/ persons from the disaster affected states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have endorsed the letter. The letter makes specific suggestions for the criteria of selection and has requested that none of the members of the outgoing EAC be selected, considering the track record of the outgoing EAC. The letter is self explanatory.
It is this EAC that considers all the dams and hydropower projects for environment clearance at initial (Terms of Reference of Environment Impact Assessment) and final (Environment Clearance) stage as also the adequacy of the EIAs, public consultation process and cumulative impact assessments. Selection of right kind of persons for chair and members of this committee is very important as past members and their conduct left a lot to be desired. Right selection of members of EAC can also go a long way in avoiding increased impact of the disasters like the one Uttarakhand is currently experiencing.
June 29, 2013
1. Union Minister of State (IC) of Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi11003
Union Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi11003
Respected Minister and Secretary,
Sub: Reconstitution of Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects
We understand that the term of the current Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects has come to an end and the ministry is in the process of reconstituting the EAC. In this context, we would like to suggest that the ministry must follow some basic criteria while selecting the chair and members for the new committee. Firstly, the ministry must ensure that all the members of the new committee have credible track record on environmental and related social issues related to the River Valley Projects. This cannot be said to be the case of some members of the outgoing committee. In addition to sociologists, ecologists, hydrologists, the committee needs to have representation from tribal groups, members with proven work on services of the river as against hydrology, experts in climatology and disaster management. Secondly, all the members of the new committee must have a track record of unimpeachable integrity and professional independence, of taking position independent of government and developers. Thirdly, there should be no issues of conflict of interest for any of the members or their affiliated organisations with respect to the projects and sector they are dealing with.
The members of the EAC should be accountable for their actions. There should be a code of conduct for EAC members, and they should give an undertaking to the MoEF that they will adhere to it. The Code should include items such as a requirement for the members to read the EIA Reports and send it written comments before each meeting on what they consider are the significant issues, declaring conflict of interests, not taking on consultancy, etc.
In this regard, we would urge you not to select any of the members of the current EAC. This is because, firstly, the current EAC has had almost zero rejection rate for the projects they considered, as can be seen from the detailed analysis done by SANDRP (see: http://sandrp.in/env_governance/TOR_and_EC_Clearance_status_all_India_Overview_Feb2013.pdf and http://sandrp.in/env_governance/EAC_meetings_Decisions_All_India_Apr_2007_to_Dec_2012.pdf) for the six year period ending in Dec 2012, during part of which many of the current EAC were members.
Secondly, the committee has been at best inconsistent in applying:
- basic parameters of the adequacy of EIA,
- the adequacy of EMP,
- need for cumulative impact assessment and carrying capacity,
- adequacy of public consultation processes,
- track record of the developers & EIA consultants,
- adequacy of considering climate change issues,
- adequacy of consideration of impact of the project on the disaster vulnerability of the area &
- Most importantly, adequate application of mind to all these issues.
The committee has been sanctioning projects that have been rejected by other government bodies, without providing any reasonable case for rejecting such recommendations. This has in fact resulted in many of the projects that the EAC has cleared, but have remained stranded because of legal, regulatory interventions and people’s opposition. One of the direct consequences of what the EAC has done can seen in the hugely increased proportions of disaster that Uttarakhand is now facing. It was shocking to see the committee recommending final environmental clearance for the 108 MW Jelam Tamak hydropower project in one of the worst hit Chamoli district in Alaknanda basin in Uttarakhand. This was in spite of at least two government appointed studies recommending that the project should not be cleared, including the Wildlife Institute of India and also the Inter Ministerial Group headed by B K Chaturvedi and SANDRP & Matu jan sangathan writing to the EAC about this and also raising various concerns about the project. Media articles have also said that the current EAC members should be sacked, see: http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NorthIndiaRainFury2013/Can-we-now-please-sack-these-experts/Article1-1081246.aspx.
MEF should realise that it can discharge its Constitutional obligation under Article 48A to conserve the ecology and ensure the sustainability of development only if the processes under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 are fully complied with. In this, the selection of the Chairman and the members of the EACs assume central importance.
We urge you in fact to set in place a transparent process of selection of EAC chair and members.
We hope you will take this into consideration.
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Supreme Court Lawyer, New Delhi email@example.com
Akhil Gogoi, General Secretary, KMSS, Assam, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramaswamy Iyer, former secretary, Govt of India, Delhi, email@example.com
E A S Sarma, Former Union Power Secretary, Visakhapattnam, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. M.K.Prasad, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Cochin, Kerala, email@example.com
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, Delhi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bittu Sehgal, Sanctuary Asia, Mumbai, email@example.com
Vimalbhai, Convenor, Matu Jansangthan, Uttarakhand, firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, former professor, IIM Bangalore, Dt Tehri, Uttarakhand email@example.com
Malika Virdi, Himal Prakriti Munsiari, Uttarakhand firstname.lastname@example.org
E Theophilus, Himal Prakriti Munsiari, Uttarakhand email@example.com
K. Ramnarayan, Save the Rivers Campaign, Uttarakhand firstname.lastname@example.org
Tarun Joshi,Vanpanchayat Sangarsh Morcha, Uttrakhand, email@example.com
Manshi Asher & Rahul Saxena, Himdhara, Himachal Pradesh firstname.lastname@example.org
Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune, email@example.com
Samir Mehta, International Rivers and River Basin friends, Mumbai firstname.lastname@example.org
Madhu Bhaduri, Ambassador of India (Retd) and social worker, Delhi email@example.com
Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Thrissur, Kerala. firstname.lastname@example.org
20. Prof. Vijay Paranjpye, Chairman, Gomukh, Pune, Maharashtra email@example.com
Rahul Banerjee, Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra, Indore, MP, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subhadra Khaperde, Aarohi Trust, Khargone, MP, email@example.com
Shankar Tadwal, Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath, Alirajpur, MP firstname.lastname@example.org
Manoj Mishra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi, email@example.com
Ravindranath, River Basin Friends, Dist Dhemaji, Assam, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ranjan Panda, Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha, Bhubaneshwar, email@example.com
Sharad Lele, Centre for Environment & Development, ATREE, Bangalore firstname.lastname@example.org
KJ Joy, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management, Pune, email@example.com
Seema Kulkarni, SOPPECOM, Pune, firstname.lastname@example.org
30. Meher Engineer, Scientist, Kolkata, W Bengal, email@example.com
Bela Bhatia, Honorary Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Nilesh Heda, Samvardhan, Washim Vidarbha, email@example.com
Samantha Agarwal, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, Raipur, firstname.lastname@example.org
Radha Gopalan, Environmental Scientist & Academician, Rishi Valley, Andhra Pradesh, email@example.com
Nitya Jacob, Delhi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aruna Rodrigues, Mhow, M.P., email@example.com
Michael Mazgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof S. Janakarajan, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, email@example.com
Prof Rohan Dsouza, JNU, Delhi, firstname.lastname@example.org
40. Chaoba Takhenchangbam, North East Dialogue Forum, Manipur, email@example.com
Swathi Seshadri, EQUATIONS, Bangalore, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prasad Chacko, Behavioural Science Centre, St Xavier’s College Campus, Ahmedabad, email@example.com
Janak Daftari, Jal Biradari, Mumbai, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sudhir Pattnaik, Writer and Activist, Bhubaneswar, email@example.com
Joe Athialy, Bank Information Center Trust, New Delhi firstname.lastname@example.org
Pushp Jain, EIA Resource and Response Centre, New Delhi, email@example.com
Pijush Kanti Das, Committee on peoples and Environment, Silchar, Assam, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Parthankar Choudhury, Society of Activists & Volunteers for Env., Silchar-Assam, email@example.com
Michael Mazgaonkar, Gujarat, firstname.lastname@example.org
50. Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, JNU, Delhi, email@example.com
Subijoy Dutta, Rivers of the World Foundation, Crofton, MD 21114 USA, Subijoy@verizon.net
Tarun Nair, Gharial Conservation Alliance, Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi, email@example.com
Copy to: 1. Jt Secretary, MEF
2. Director-IA, RVP, MEF