Ken-Betwa project on linking rivers cleared for environmental nod

The ambitious project requires diversion of 5,258 hectares of forest land, including 4,141 hectares of the Panna reserve, and was cleared by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) last August.

THE RS 10,000-crore Ken-Betwa river-linking project has got the go-ahead for environment clearance. The nod comes even as the project is being examined by the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) for adequacy of mitigative measures against its adverse impact on the Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.

The ambitious project requires diversion of 5,258 hectares of forest land, including 4,141 hectares of the Panna reserve, and was cleared by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) last August. On December 30, the Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for river valley and hydel projects recommended the project for environment clearance.

The CEC, meanwhile, had informed the Ministry in a letter on December 2 that it “would like to examine this (Ken-Betwa) proposal from the point of adequacy of mitigative measures against the adverse impacts of the project on the ecological integrity of Panna Tiger Reserve and particularly the riverine eco-system”.

The Ministry responded to the CEC’s request to make available relevant papers and reports related to the project only last week, after the project was cleared by the EAC. The CEC can approach the Supreme Court, if it feels aggrieved by a decision of the the NBWL panel.

The minutes of the December 30 EAC meeting note that the “consensus” at an internal meeting of the ministry on November 30 was to delink the landscape management plan (LMP) for the project-affected tiger habitat from the perspective of environmental clearance.

Last year, the EAC had called for the LMP and decided to reconsider the project only after obtaining a second opinion from an external expert.

Soon after the Ken-Betwa project was recommended for wildlife clearance, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti had said that she was confident about an early environmental clearance. Last month, she claimed that “the last hurdle” was cleared and the project would be launched as soon as the funding pattern was finalised.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ken-betwa-project-on-linking-rivers-cleared-for-environmental-nod-4473400/

Surplus power in India: Now heavy users to pay lower tariffs

NEW DELHI: Major reforms of power tariffs are on the horizon as an official committee has recommended lower tariffs for heavy users to encourage electricity consumption as the country moves from a deficit to surplus situation. In India, power consumers have always been paying higher bills for higher consumption. Slabs are fixed and if you fall in the higher consumption range, you pay more. It's time the country doles out incentives for high power consumption, a committee constituted to advise the government on ways to increase electricity demand has said.

"The present tariff structure has been designed for power shortage scenario in states and has not been changed since Independence. Since India has excess electricity generation capacity now, the existing framework needs to be changed to address the capacity generation glut,” said a member of the committee constituted by the power ministry in September last year to suggest innovative schemes for raising power demand.

The committee comprises of chairman of the Central Electricity Authority, secretary of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), president of industry body Ficci, energy secretaries of Bihar and Tamil Nadu and principal energy secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The committee is in the process of finalising its report and is likely to present it to the power ministry by January-end.

The official said the committee is of the view that to boost electricity demand, rebates and incentives in electricity bills be extended to consumers.

The state electricity regulatory commissions should revise the tariff design for all consumers, particularly industry, commercial and service sectors, the official said.

Presently, consumers are penalised by way of higher tariffs for higher consumption.

The committee also opines in the draft report that more states can offer power at lower rates to industries during night and off-peak hours. Such system of differential tariff is in place in some states and Madhya Pradesh has seen increase in power consumption. The committee has also explored other short term and long term options for enhancing power consumption.

These include promoting manufacturing under Make in India through electricity assurance, encouraging use of electric vehicles and electric equipment in construction activities.

ET on December 25 reported that the government planned to introduce a new tariff structure to charge more from large domestic power consumers rather than industrial units that currently share the cross subsidy burden. Most states categorise households consuming more than 800 units of power a month as large domestic consumers.

http://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/surplus-power-in-india-now-heavy-users-to-pay-lower-tariffs/56533326

Environment clearance for Arossim (Goa) resort quashed

 

 

 

VASCO

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Western Zone Bench have quashed the amendment granting environment clearance to the 226 roomed, starred beach resort at Arossim seashore near Cansaulim which was proposed in the eco fragile area.

The Cansaulim-Arossim-Cuelim Civic and Consumer Forum and Cansaulim villagers Action Committee had filed an appeal in the NGT.

The village Panchayat of Cansaulim-Arossim-Cuelim had earlier returned the file seeking construction licence for the starred beach resort saying the file was incomplete and has no Environmental Clearance.

The CACCF vice president Dr Marconi Correia said that the villagers of Cansaulim Arossim Cuelim stand vindicated as they were aware of the norms which was not followed while granting the Environmental Clearance to the project in an eco fragile area wherein the rainstorm channels of the village meet the Arabian Sea.

 

http://epaper.navhindtimes.in/NewsDetail.aspx?storyid=6774&date=2017-01-11&pageid=1

Forest Diversion for Small as well as Large Linear Projects – Action Shifts from Centre to Region

 

 

 

Regional Empowered Committee (REC), Lucknow comprising of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and UT of Delhi at the Regional Office of the MoEF&CC is considering Forest Diversion of 463 ha proposed for diversion in 12 projects on 5 January 2017. Incidentally all the 12 proposals are for Linear projects (e.g. new roads, widening of existing highways, transmission lines, water supply lines, optical fibre cabling, railway lines etc).

 

RECs have been constituted at each of the 10 Regional Offices of the MoEF&CC under Chairmanship of the Head of the Regional Office, and having two officials of the Regional Office and three non- official experts in forestry and allied disciplines as members.

 

REC is competent to approve or reject proposals involving diversion of forest area above 5 hectares and up to 40 ha, except the proposals for regularization of encroachments, mining (including renewal of mining leases) and hydel projects.

 

REC has expanded power in case of linear projects. It looks at all linear proposals for diversion of more than 5 ha of forest land, even if it involves more than 40 ha forest land, which was not the case earlier.

 

For example, one Kanpur - Allahabad NH 2 proposal involving 89 ha of forest land is under consideration.

 

Ministry has been liberalizing rules for forest diversion for linear projects for quite some time, more so during NDA rule. Time and again, certain road projects have been allowed exemption from requirement of some processes of environmental clearance e.g. scoping  (assignment of terms of reference for environmental study), Public Consultation (to know the views of impacted people) etc. 

 

Ministry has diluted requirement of the Forest Right Act for such projects by issuing an OM dated 5 February 2013. It outlined that an inter-ministerial committee has ‘recommended that a resolution of the Gram Sabha of the area, based on full and prior information of the project and a public hearing, endorsing that the project is in the interest of the people living on the forest land, use of which is proposed to be diverted for non-forest purposes may not required’ for linear projects.

In context of simplification of procedure for grant of permission for felling of trees standing on forest land to be diverted for execution of linear projects e.g. new roads, widening of existing highways, transmission lines, water supply lines, optical fibre cabling, railway lines etc, MoEF&CC issued an order providing directions and guidelines. The order dated 28 August 2015 provides for the in- principle approval (stage I clearance) to be deemed as working permission for tree cutting and commencement of work after fulfilling some conditions. Earlier, such permission used to be given after completion of all pre- project implementation conditions and issue of stage II approval by Central Government and final approval of the state government. Now to expedite work, these clearances can be obtained later.

 

No doubt, more than 500 road proposals have been granted Forest Clearances in two years after 15th July 2014 all over the country.

 

 

Sector wise proposed Diversion

 

Sr No

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

%Proposals

1

Linear Project-Pipeline

8.36

1.80

1

8.33

2

Linear Project-Road

394.21

85.07

8

66.67

3

Linear Projects -Transmission line

18.75

4.05

2

16.67

4

Linear Projects-Railway

42.06

9.08

1

8.33

-

Total

463.38

100.00

12

100.00

 

 

 

 

State wise area proposed for diversion

 

Sr No

State

Sector

Area

%Area

Proposals

%Proposals

1

Uttar Pradesh

Linear Project-Pipeline

8.3581

1.80

1

8.33

2

Uttar Pradesh

Linear Project-Road

394.212

85.07

8

66.67

3

Rajasthan

Linear Projects -Transmission line

18.75

4.05

2

16.67

4

Rajasthan

Linear Projects-Railway

42.06

9.08

1

8.33

-

-

Total

463.3801

100.00

12

100.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposals under Consideration

 

SI No.

Name of the Proposal / Agenda Item

State

Area (ha)

Category

1

Kanpur - Allahabad NH 2

Uttar Pradesh

88.94

Linear Project-Road

2

SH 510

Uttar Pradesh

63.2

Linear Project-Road

3

NH76

Uttar Pradesh

27.23

Linear Project-Road

4

SH 93

Uttar Pradesh

57.098

Linear Project-Road

5

MDR 81 C

Uttar Pradesh

23.458

Linear Project-Road

6

Old GT Road

Uttar Pradesh

17.626

Linear Project-Road

7

2x660 TPP water pipeline

Uttar Pradesh

8.3581

Linear Project-Pipeline

8

NH 93

Uttar Pradesh

58.26

Linear Project-Road

9

NH 42

Uttar Pradesh

58.4

Linear Project-Road

10

220 KV Ajmer Chitorgarh Transmission line

Rajasthan

9.002

Linear Projects-Transmission line

11

132 KV Nimbahera Vijaypur Transmission line

Rajasthan

9.7559

Linear Projects-Transmission line

12

Thaiyat Hamira New railway line

Rajasthan

42.06

Linear Projects-Railway

 

 

 

463.39

 

 

Analysis by

 

Pushp Jain & Terence Jorge

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi - 110 048. India

 

NGT expresses displeasure with MoEF for exempting real estate from environmental clearances, says ‘why do you do these funny things’

National Green Tribunal (NGT) today expressed displeasure with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its new notification which exempts real estate developers from obtaining prior Environmental Clearance (EC). The green court has also restrained it from granting fresh permissions for costruction under the new regulation. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also sent a warning to MoEF saying, “You can’t do legal blunders and get away with it”.

MoEF’s new notification published on December 9, last year exempts buildings and construction projects of all sizes from the process of environment impact assessment (EIA) and prior environmental clearance before beginning construction. NGT has came down heavily on MoEF for not ‘applying its mind’ while making amendments on the notification.

For smaller projects (less than 20,000 sq metres), it even has a “self-declaration” clause, which will ensure issuance of permission from urban local bodies. For larger projects of more than 20,000 sq m size, the EC and building permission will be given by urban local bodies simultaneously in an “integrated format”.

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/ngt-expresses-displeasure-with-moef-for-exempting-real-estate-from-environmental-clearances-says-why-do-you-do-these-funny-things/497783/