Dams and river related projects not meant for irrigation escaping the EIA, EC and public hearing
Neha Sethi | May 17, 2011
An NGO has demanded that the environment impact assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 be reviewed by the ministry of environment and forests. Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP) has written to Jairam Ramesh to protest the exclusion of dams and river related projects which are not meant for irrigation or have hydro installed capacity of below 25 mw from the ‘lists of projects or activities requiring prior environmental clearance’ under the EIA notification 2006.
All drinking water dams, industrial water dams and all flood control dams or embankment proposals have also been excluded from this list. Citing the example of Kalu dam in Thane district of Maharahstra, Thakkar has said that the Kalu dam with storage capacity of 405 million cubic meters will have submergence area of over 2100 ha, including 1000 ha of forest land. “However, the dam being proposed for drinking and industrial water supply to Mumbai does not require EC (environmental clearance), EIA or PH (public hearing) and the work on the dam has already been started on massive scale, affecting the local people,” he has stated in the letter.
Thakkar has said that the local people cannot even raise any issue since there are no EIAs, no PH and no EC is required. The project authorities do not have forest clearance either, but they have started work on what they call non forest land, and say that the forest clearance application is happening, but they have permission (from the irrigation department) to start work. “These are shocking exclusions, since all these projects have massive impacts, both socially and environmentally,” he has added.
Another dam, Shai, is under construction in the same area. “It again does not require EIA, PH or EC since it is a drinking cum industrial water supply dam, even though it is of massive size and impacts,” Thakkar has pointed out.
Thakkar had written to the minister in June 2009 on this issue earlier. “The authors of the notification (EIA 2006) seem like complete illiterates on environment issues, since this excludes say the 10 mw Gumti dam on Tripura having massive submergence area of 4634 hectares. The installed capacity of hydro power does not decide the quantum of impacts,” he has mentioned.
The NGO has demanded that the schedule of EIA notification should be amended to bring back the pre 14.09.2006 definition of river valley projects into the schedule of projects requiring EIA, PH and EC. They also want that work on the Kalu and Shai dam be stopped immediately.
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