Reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects: MoEF has neither environment sense, nor guts: Unacceptable Committee

Press Statement                                                                                             September 7, 2013

Reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects:

MoEF has neither environment sense, nor guts: Unacceptable Committee

On Sept 5, 2013, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests came out with “Re-constitution of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley & Hydro Electric Project” (see: http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/EAC-Order-05092013.pdf). Mr Alok Perti, former Coal Secretary, has been made chairperson of the committee that appraises all major irrigation projects, dams, hydropower projects and river valley projects for Environment clearances at two stages (TOR and final). It is shocking to see that Mr Perti who has absolutely no environment credentials, who has been known to be anti environment, who has been accusing the environment ministry to be in road block of coal mining and who has shown his ignorance of environment issues on several occasions has been selected as chair person, putting aside basic environmental sense. This reconstituted EAC on RiverValley and Hydropower projects is completely unacceptable.

It is equally disturbing to see that the committee has no woman representation, no sociologist, no one from non-government organisations. All ten members are either from government, government organisations or government funded academic organisations. This means that none of them would be in a position to take a stand independent of the government stand. The committee also has no river expert, climate change-water expert or disaster management expert, all of which are crucially important issues for a committee like this that decides the fate of India’s rivers, even more so after the Uttarakhand disaster. P K Chaudhuri, one of the members of the new committee also has had nothing to do with rivers, water or environment. Hardip S Kingra, who was involved in Commonwealth games organisation and also chairman of National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation has had no work related to rivers or environment.

Specifically, Mr Alok Perti, who has been senior functionary, including secretary of currently controversial Coal Ministry from Oct 2009 to earlier this year and before Oct 2009 in ministries like defense and family welfare, clearly has had no background on environment or rivers. As coal secretary, he had accused MoEF for stalling the growth by not giving clearances to coal mining projects automatically. The Economic Times quoted Perti as saying in a report[1]: “India has to decide whether she wants electricity or tigers.” Such simplistic statements reflect he has absolutely no understanding of environment, biodiversity, leave aside rivers. Perti’s anti civil society stance was also exposed when he refused to discuss issues with activists and asked them to go and file RTIs[2]. These are only a couple of examples we are giving here, there are many others. By appointing such a person as chairman of the EAC on RVP, the MoEF has shown it has no guts or interest in protecting the environment or forests which is supposed to be its mandate. This committee is clearly unacceptable and will also not stand legal scrutiny.

Ritwick Dutta (ritwickdutta@gmail.com, 09810044660, ERC and LIEF, Delhi)

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com, 09860030742, SANDRP, Pune)

Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com), 09968242798, SANDRP, Delhi)

Manoj Mishra (yamunajiye@gmail.com, 09910153601, YJA, Delhi)


[2] http://environmentaljusticetv.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/greenpeace-india-protest-at-the-coal-ministry/

FOLLOWING LETTER HAS BEEN SENT ON SEPT 9, 2013:

9 Sept 2013

To,

Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan,

Union Minister of State (IC) of Environment and Forests,

Paryavaran Bhawan, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, jayanthi.n@sansad.nic.in

 

Dr V Rajagopalan,

Secretary,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, vrg.iyer@nic.in

 

Maninder Singh

Joint Secretary,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, jsicmoef@nic.in

 

Mr. B. B. Barman

Director (IA) River Valley Projects,

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, bidhu-mef@nic.in

 

Subject: Urgent concerns about reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Proejcts

 

Respected madam and sirs,

 

On Sept 5, 2013, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests came out with “Re-constitution of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley & Hydro Electric Project” (see: http://envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/EAC-Order-05092013.pdf). Mr Alok Perti, former Coal Secretary, has been made chairperson of the committee that appraises all major irrigation projects, dams, hydropower projects and river valley projects for Environment clearances at two stages (TOR and final). It is shocking to see that Mr Perti who has absolutely no environment credentials, who has been known to be anti environment, who has been accusing the environment ministry to be in road block of coal mining and who has shown his ignorance of environment issues on several occasions has been selected as chair person, putting aside basic environmental sense. This reconstituted EAC on River Valley and Hydropower projects is completely unacceptable.

 

It is equally disturbing to see that the committee has no woman representation, no sociologist, no one from non-government organisations. All ten members are either from government, or from government organisations or government funded academic organisations. This means that none of them would be in a position to take a stand independent of the government stand. The committee also has no river expert, climate change-water expert or disaster management expert, all of which are crucially important issues for a committee like this that decides the fate of India’s rivers, even more so after the Uttarakhand disaster. P K Chaudhuri, one of the members of the new committee also has done no work with rivers, water or environment, going by his CV. Hardip S Kingra, who was involved in Commonwealth games organisation and also chairman of National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation has had no work related to rivers or environment.

 

Specifically, Mr Alok Perti, who has been senior functionary, including secretary of currently controversial Coal Ministry from Oct 2009 to early 2013 and before Oct 2009 he has been in ministries like defense and family welfare, clearly has had no background on environment or rivers. As coal secretary, he had accused MoEF for stalling the growth by not giving clearances to coal mining projects automatically. The Economic Times quoted Perti as saying in a report[1]: “India has to decide whether she wants electricity or tigers.” Such simplistic statements reflect he has absolutely no understanding of environment, biodiversity, leave aside rivers. Perti’s anti civil society stance was also exposed when he refused to discuss issues with activists and asked them to go and file RTIs[2]. By appointing such a person as chairman of the EAC on RVP, the MoEF has shown it has no interest in protecting the environment or forests which is supposed to be its mandate. This committee is clearly unacceptable and will also not stand legal scrutiny.

 

Under the circumstances, we demand that:

1. The notification (No. J-12011/EAC /2010-IA-I dated Sept 5, 2013) of reconstitution of the EAC be cancelled;

2. A participatory process be initiated for reconstitution of the EAC with the norms some of suggested in our letter to you dated June 29, 2013, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/lessons-from-uttarakhand-disaster-for-selection-of-river-valley-projects-expert-committee/;

3. The EAC meeting slated for Sept 23-24, 2013 should be cancelled.

 

We will look forward to early reply from you.

 

Thanking you,

 

Prof. M. K. Prasad, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Cochin prasadmkprasad@gmail.com

Ramaswamy R. Iyer, former secretary, Government of India, Delhi. ramaswamy.iyer@gmail.com

Madhu Bhaduri, former ambassador, Delhi. madhu.bhaduri@gmail.com

Ravi Chopra, People’s Science Institute and member NGBRA, Dehra Doon psiddoon@gmail.com

Ritwick Dutta, ERC and LIEF, Delhi.  ritwickdutta@gmail.com

Manoj Mishra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi yamunajiye@gmail.com

Prof. S. Janakarajan, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, janak@mids.ac.in

Vimal Bhai, MATU jansangathan, Uttarakhand bhaivimal@gmail.com

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune, manthan.shripad@gmail.com

10. Latha Anantha, River Research Centre, Kerala latha.anantha9@gmail.com

Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar, Pune patwardhan.sujit@gmail.com

Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust, Mumbai debi1@cat.org.in

Souparna Lahiri, All India Forum of Forest Movements, Delhi. souparna.lahiri@gmail.com

Rohit Prajapati, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat   – rohit.prajapati@gmail.com

Soumya Dutta, Climate & Energy Group, Beyond Copenhagen collective, Delhi soumyadutta_delhi@rediffmail.com

Joy KJ, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management, Pune joykjjoy2@gmail.com

Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Betul, Madhya Pradesh sasbetul@yahoo.com

Dr Brij Gopal, Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia, Jaipur, brij44@gmail.com  

Rahul Banerjee, Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra, Indore rahul.indauri@gmail.com

20. Subhadra Khaperde, Kansari Nu Vadavno, Indore subhadra.khaperde@gmail.com

Shankar Tadwal, Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath, Alirajpur shankarkmcs@rediffmail.com

Samantha Agarwal, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, Raipur, Chhattisgarh. samsnomadicheart@gmail.com

Dr V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad. vrukminirao@yahoo.com

Tarun Nair, Researchers for Wildlife Conservation, Bangalore. tarunnair1982@gmail.com

Shankar Sharma, Mysore shankar.sharma2005@gmail.com

C.G. Madhusoodhanan, Research Scholar,Indian Institute of Technology Bombay madhucg@gmail.com

Pushp Jain, EIA Resource and Response Centre, New Delhi ercdelhi@gmail.com

Gopakumar Menon, Wildlifer, Bangalore. gopakumar.rootcause@gmail.com

Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch Alliance, Delhi. gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com

30. Jai Sen, CACIM, New Delhi, jai.sen@cacim.net

Samir Mehta, International Rivers, Mumbai samir@internationalrivers.org

E Theophilus, Malika Virdi, K Ramnarayan, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand, etheophilus@gmail.com

Neeraj Vagholikar, Kalpavriksh, Pune, nvagho@gmail.com

PT George, Intercultural Resources, Delhi, ihpindia@gmail.com

Akhil Gogoi, President, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam, secretarykmss@gmail.com

Subir Bhaumik, Veteran Journalist and author of “Troubled Periphery: Crisis of India’s Northeast” (Sage, 2009), sbhaum@gmail.com

Ravindra Nath, Rural Volunteers Centre (RVC), Akajan, Dhemaji, Assam, rvcassam@gmail.com

Sanjib Baruah, Professor, Bard College, New York, baruah@bard.edu

Shashwati Goswami, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, shashwati.goswami@gmail.com

40. Mrinal Gohain, ActionAid, Guwahati, mrinalgohain@gmail.com

Keshav Krishna Chatradhara, Peoples Movement for Subansiri & Brahmaputra Valley (PMSBV), Assam, pmsv_subansiri@yahoo.com

Girin Chetia, North East Affected Area Development Society, Jorhat, Assam, neadsjorhat@gmail.com

Azing Pertin, Echo of Arunachal, Arunachal Pradesh, azingp@gmail.com

Parag Jyoti Saikia, SANDRP, Delhi.

Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP, Pune. parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com

Additional names in letter sent independently by CORE (namdithiu@coremanipur.org on 190913) :

46. Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE)

Reformed Education and Development Society (READS) Manipur

Forum for Indigenous Perspective and Action (FIPA)

Action Committee  Against Tipaimukh Project (ACTIP)

50. All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union Manipur (ALLAFUM)

All Manipur Thanga People’s Welfare Association (AMTPWA)

Rural Education and Action for Change Manipur (REACH-M)

All Tribal Women Organisation(ATWO)

Weaker Section Development Council(WSDC)

Rongmei Luh Phuam (Assam, Manipur and Nagaland)

REACHOUT North East

River Basin Friends North East

58. Anthony Deb Barma of Borok Peoples’ Human Rights Organisation (BPHRO), Tripura

Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, c/o 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi)ht.sandrp@gmail.com

One Comment on “Reconstituted Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects: MoEF has neither environment sense, nor guts: Unacceptable Committee

  1. It looks like we should more accurately rename and refer to this committee as the NINENAC (Non-Independent Non-Expert Non-appraisal Committee) or some such suitable variation thereof! Bharat

    Like

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