NGT issues notices to MoEF&CC and CPCB on Climate Change Petition

 

A Petition raising the issue of impacts of Climate Change and inaction of the Government was filed on 22.03.2017 before National Green Tribunal, New Delhi by nine year old girl, Ridhima Pandey. She is part of a class that amongst all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate in India yet are not part of the decision making process. The government has failed to take any effective science-based measure, and there is a huge gap in implementation of the environmental legislations.

The Petition came for hearing today (29.03.2017) before Chairperson of the Tribunal—Mr. Justice  Swatanter Kumar, along with  Mr. Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore and Expert Member Mr. Bikram Singh Sajwan.

After hearing the Counsel of Applicant, Tribunal issued notice to the Ministry of Environment & Forest & Climate Change and Central Pollution Control Board to file their reply to the petition within two weeks. Thereafter, petitioner can file rejoinder to the reply.  The case is now fixed for hearing on 4 May 2017.

Main contention the Applicant is that India has ratified the Paris Agreement but is not taking any steps to bring down the Green House Gas emissions. The Environmental Clearances and Forest Clearances granted do not take into account impacts of the projects on climate.

 

India in its ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ has committed to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level. Other important goals include achieving about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources, and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. But all these commitments are not reflected in legal framework or in implementation of projects.

 

Rahul Choudhary
Legal Initiative for Forest & Environment (LIFE)
New Delhi

 

FAC considering diversion of 7175 ha on 30 March 2017   

 

As usual, serious delays in sharing of agenda by MoEF&CC. Agenda was shared just 5 days before the meeting on 25 March. 

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is considering diversion of 7175 ha of forest in its meeting on 30 March as per the agenda.

This meeting seems to have been designed specifically Ken-Betwa River Linking, of which two major projects of Phase 1 & 2 are being considered which involve 6985 ha forest i.e. 97 per cent of the total under consideration.  Both these proposals are located in Madhya Pradesh State of India.

ERC India today has suggested to FAC on Ken-Betwa River Link Project that for once foresters must stand up. FAC should strongly oppose an illegal proposal, since this is not permitted under Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.  Furthermore, FAC should listen to the PM, Narendra Modi, who has outlined that tiger conservation is a strategy for climate change mitigation.

Sector-Wise Area Proposed for Diversion

S No

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

%Proposals

1

Irrigation

6985.24

97.35

2

50

2

Mining

134.24

1.87

1

25

3

Wind Power

55.73

0.78

1

25

-

Total

7175.21

100.00

4

100

 

State & Sector-Wise Area Proposed for Diversion

S. No.

State

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

%Proposals

1

Andhra Pradesh

Wind Power

55.7

0.78

1

25

2

Jharkhand

Mining

134

1.87

1

25

3

Madhya Pradesh

Irrigation

6985

97.35

2

50

-

Total

-

7175

100

4

100

 

AGENDA FOR THE MEETING OF FOREST ADVISORY COMMITTEE SCHEDULED TO BE HELD ON 30TH March, 2017

30th March, 2017

SI No.

File no.

Name of the Proposal / Agenda Item

State

Area (ha)

Category

View Documents

Rajagopal Prashant, AIGF(FC)

1

8-25/2012-FC

DIVERSION OF 55.73 HA OF FOREST LAND IN RAMGIRI (EAST & WEST) RF OF ANANTHAPUR DIVERSION FOR ESTABLISHING 40.00 MW WIND POWER PROJECTS- IN FAVOUR OF M/S SARJAN REALITIES LTD., HYDERABAD.

ANDHRA PRADESH

55.73

WIND POWER

Click On

Nisheeth Saxena, AIGF(FC)

1

8-08/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF 968.24 HECTARES OF FOREST LAND IN FAVOUR OF NATIONAL WATER DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, ASHOKNAGAR AND SHIVPURI DISTRICT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF LOWER AND MAJOR IRRIGATION PROJECT (KEN- BETWA LINK PROJECT), MADHYA PRADESH.

MADHYA PRADESH

968.24

IRRIGATION

Click On

2

8-49/2016-FC

DIVERSION OF 6017.00 HA. OF FOREST LAND IN FAVOUR OF RASHTRIYA JAL VIKAS ABHIKARAN FOR DEVELOPMENT OF KEN-BETWA LINK PROJECT FROM DISTT. CHATTARPUR, PANNA AND TIKAMGARH, MADHYA PRADESH.

MADHYA PRADESH

6017

IRRIGATION

Click On

Rajagopal Prashant, AIGF(FC)

1

8-01/2016-FC

JADUGUDA URANIUM MINES

JHARKHAND

134.424

MINING

Click On

 

Analysis by

 

Pushp Jain & Terence Jorge

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi - 110 048. India Web : ercindia.org;

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments for Draft Guidelines on Construction and Demolition Waste by 20 March 2017

It is intended to ensure  reduction of environmental impacts from handling of C&D waste. It is a guidance of managing construction and demolition waste in cities with varying population ranging from less than one million to more than million population.
 
It has talked about the whole life cycle approach of managing C&D waste, i.e generation of C&D waste in India which is very much process driven in nature and the probable impacts that is happening from rampant dumping of this waste into low lying areas or abandoned quarries, vacant plots or sometimes even the outskirts of the city till its final disposal and management which can result in natural resource conservation and employment creation.
 
Last date for providing comments - 20th Mar, 2017
 

‘Green nods given to projects that don’t meet criteria’

NEW DELHI: Highlighting irregularities in the process of granting green nods to many projects in the country, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted that almost a third of the nearly 200 developmental projects which got environmental clearances between 2011-2015 did not adhere to the procedure of seeking mandatory public consultation.

In its report, tabled in the Parliament on Friday, the CAG also said that the existing processes for grant of environmental clearance in the country suffered from various procedural deficiencies and there were delays at each stage of environment impact assessment (EIA) process.

It said the environmental clearances (EC) were granted to many projects during the period "without checking the compliance conditions" in the previous EC.


Referring to the mandatory public consultation process, the country's central auditor noted that due diligence in process for holding public consultation was not followed in seven sectors and the non-compliance was maximum in case of river valley and hydro electric projects.


"We (CAG) examined 216 projects in environment ministry granted Environment Clearance (EC) between 2011-July 2015, for evaluating the process of public consultation as stipulated in EIA Notification 2006. In 196 projects where public consultation was to be conducted, we found irregularities in 62 projects (32 %)," the CAG said. 


It said due diligence process as prescribed in the EIA notification for the conduct of public consultation was not followed in any of the seven sectors including coal mining, industry, non coal mining, construction, infrastructure, river valley and hydro electric projects and thermal power.

 
"The non-compliance was maximum in case of river valley and hydro electric projects," it said. The irregularities included delay in conduct of public hearing, missing advertisements, advertisement not in vernacular language, not taking views of public into account, among others.
 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/green-nods-given-to-projects-that-dont-meet-criteria/articleshow/57584746.cms0

Not foreign firms, Centre averse to NGOs

 

Ritwick Dutta, March 9, 2017

Ironically, it was the Cong and BJP that were held guilty for accepting funding from firms abroad.

Last month, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Cha­nge Madhav Dave, while addressing members from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the ministry, reminded them to be wary of the NGOs supported by foreign interests and funding and to ensure that projects are not delayed due to new environmental studies.

Dave told them to keep the overall goal of ‘ease of doing business’ in mind. Earlier, the EAC on River Valley Projects recorded in its minutes of meeting that it will not entertain representations from the civil society groups. Objectively seen, the minister was well within his right to caution experts with respect to policy issues as well as emphasise the Centre’s policy goals.

What is however seriously problematic is that the word of caution is only with respect to civil society groups. Not a word was supposedly spoken about the need to be cautious about business entities, whether Indian or foreign, whose project proposals are scrutinised by the ministry and the EAC.

It is beyond doubt that many foreign companies have been found blatantly violating environmental laws: the Environmental Clearance for Lafarge, the French cement giant, was suspended in 2011 by the Himachal Pradesh High Court on grounds of faulty studies and concealment of information; the environmental and forest clearance for POSCO, the Korean steel giant, was suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in view of blatant illegality and deficient studies and Vedanta/Sterlite’s industrial operations in Tamil Nadu, Goa and Odisha were found to be illegal and improper on environmental grounds by the Supreme Court, high court and NGT; Coca Cola was held guilty of over-exploiting ground water in Kerala.

This is not an exhaustive list. At the international level, Germ­an car giant Volkswagen admitted to having ‘planted’ someth­ing called a “defeat device” — or software — in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to imp­rove results. Foreign companies, ironically, tend to be treated as ‘holy cows’ by the government.

At the domestic level, groups like Jindal Steel, Adani, GVK, Bhilwara, Jaypee Cements have been held guilty of environmental violations by various courts. While not a word is ever said by the political establishment aga­inst such proven violators, they are also regarded as no less sacred than the exotic ‘holy cows.’

One is rather surprised at the aversion towards only NGOs espousing environmental and social concerns. After all, one must not forget that the government does engage actively with a select category of NGOs, who have easy access to the citadels of policy and decision making.

These NGOs include the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the Federation of Indian Commerce and Industries (FICCI), Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) to name a few.

Clearly, and without doubt, SIAM does not have public health as its primary consideration when it articulates for use of highly polluting diesel for private vehicles or for that matter when CREDAI aggressively advocates for exemption from application of environmental laws for real estate projects. The government's policy, irrespective of the party in power, has always been influenced by the pressure exerted by these NGOs.

Yet, not a word of caution is ever expressed by the political leadership when it comes to dealing with these NGOs. On the contrary, political leaders openly hobnob with leaders of these NGOs and solicit their support for implementation of government programmes.

Greenpeace issue

Now, coming to the issue of foreign funding. Two years ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs took action against NGO Greenpea­ce on alleged violation of law, based on a report of the Intelligence Bureau. Not only was its Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) permission suspended, but even its registration as a society was suspended. The Delhi and the Madras HCs overturned the government’s decision, holding it illegal and arbitrary and a violation of the democratic right of citizens.

Ironically, it was the Congress as well as the BJP that were held guilty by the Delhi HC for accepting funding for political activities from the UK-based foreign company — Vedanta and Sterlite. In a clear and unambiguous judgement, the HC concluded that both the parties had violated the FCRA which prohibits political parties from accepting foreign contribution.

Both parties escaped prosecution since the law was subsequently amended with retrospective effect, legalising these contributions. As expected, the law was amended without any objection in Parliament.

The freedom and right to form an association is one of the freedoms under the constitution. So is the freedom of speech and expression. In expressing concerns with respect to environment, civil society groups are only doing what the Indian Constitution requires them to do under Article 51 A (g) — to protect and improve the natural environment and to have compassion for every living creature.

No minister, ministry, government or its expert committee is above the constitution. It is high time those in power recognise not only their constitutional duties, but also the limits of their power and authority under the Constitution.

(The writer is a New Delhi-based environmental lawyer)