Sunday, November 28, 2010

Use of vehicles like SUVs & BMW in India is Criminal?


Emissions from Transport Sector.


  Mr. Jairam Ramesh , Environment  Minister, speaking at a UN function recently said, that   the Transport Sector in India contribute 7.5 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the country and this is expected to be 15 per cent in the next 15 to 20 years. He says "we are worried and we are looking at how to control these emissions from transport sector. For this to happen there should be mandatory fuel efficiency standards for Auto Makers". According to him, India is the only country in the world which does not have a mandatory fuel efficiency standard.


Subsidized Diesel


 The luxurious growth of large-size vehicles like SUVs, which survived on subsidized diesel to an extent of Rs 22 per liter, is really a skewed growth of concern. There should be a reformed diesel pricing policy as the real beneficiaries of the present subsidy are the owners of the "BMWs, the Benzs and Hondas" and not the farmers and public/goods transport sectors, for whom subsidized diesel is actually meant.


"I am worried seeing the number of vehicles on the roads today and with the number of increasing big SUVs, it can be a recipe for disaster like the US... I am not happy... I have no control over it, unfortunately," Ramesh added.


"And certainly put a penalty on the type of cars that you don't want to see on the roads which is diesel driven Car, SUVs," Mr. Jairam Ramesh said. He wants gas guzzling Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) off Indian roads saying they emitted more carbons and called the use of vehicles like SUVs & BMWs in the country as "Criminal".


Effective Fiscal Policy


 We cannot ask people to buy or not to buy a particular car, but through an effective fiscal policy, we can certainly have the desired impact. The diesel car owners do not deserve subsidized diesel, we want them to pay market price but it will be difficult to ask the Gas Stations to charge them higher than other users such as public transport, goods transport vehicles etc.


So 25 % cess on the car price may be imposed on diesel cars in addition to corresponding increase in life tax imposed by the respective State Governments, so as to prevent misuse of subsidized diesel by Private Diesel car owners.




Thursday, November 11, 2010

Environmental Laws need more Teeth & Machinery for Enforceability

 The Chief Justice of India, Justice S.H.Kapadia, is reported to have suggested amending various Environmental Laws, to give them more teeth and also providing requisite machinery to implement them properly, while addressing a gathering on 9 th November at New Delhi, on the occasion of National Legal Service Day. He pointed out that the Legislature has enacted several laws for protection of environment but has provided "No Machinery" to enforce them.


Illegal Mining & Corruption


 The CJI said, sharing his experience as judge sitting in on the Supreme Court Forest Bench for the last six years, that rather than dealing with Environmental and Forest Laws, it had become a Bench to deal with Corruption. The CJI is also reported to have said that a handful of Corporate and Rich people are destroying forests out of their greed through illegal mining. 


Lack of Rule of Environmental Law     


At present the environmental laws are honoured more in their breech than in their observance, because Non-Compliance has become a "High-Profit" business instead of being a "High-Risk" business, as is evident from various scams. The "Regulating Agencies" are at present functioning as Government Departments, which are amenable to the influences of political and money power. What we need immediately is an autonomous "National Environmental Protection Authority (NEPA) a permanent professional body in place of MOEF, CPCB, State PCBs etc, which is being talked about by Sri Jairam Ramesh, MOSE&F quite for some time.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bhavanapadu & Sompeta Thermal Power Plants-Penal Action

The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) of Govt.of India  accorded  Environmental Clearances(EC) to Sompeta Thermal Power Plant (TPP)  of Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd (NCC) and Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Plant(TPP) of East Coast Energy Pvt. Ltd (ECE), in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh, based on wrong information, as confirmed by National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) as per details furnished below:


NCC Thermal Power Plant at Sompeta


The NEAA Order dated 14-07-2010, quashing the Environmental Clearance accorded to NCC Thermal Power Plant  at Sompeta, categorically stated that the Authority, on inspection to the site, found the land allotted to the project a typical wetland of great ecological importance and a source for water for nearby villagers upon which 3 important Lift-Irrigation Projects of the Govt. depend.


The NEAA also concluded that the report of various agencies including that of sub-committee of EAC was found misleading.  Also observed that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) was also carried away by the reports and reversed its decision of 32 nd Meeting held on 13-14 October 2008. Hence, the Authority concluded that the Environmental Clearance accorded to NCC by MOEF, based on wrong information is bad and thus liable to be quashed.


ECE Thermal Power Plant at Bhavanapadu

The NEAA in its Order dated 30-8-2010 observed that even after leaving 500 acres of land in southern portion, thereby shifting the southern boundary of the facility by 1.35 km, the remaining area (part of which already raised), was still found to be a marshy/wetland except in places showing transitional character. The Authority also observed that various reports in this regard, including that of sub-committee of EAC were found to be incorrect. The EAC and in turn the MOEF has relied on these reports for granting Environmental Clearance for the project ECE at Bhavanapadu

The Authority further observed that as stated by the expert of BHNS and agreed by Dr.Kaul, an internationally  renowned expert on Wetlands, elevation of the project site   by the project proponent, after the grant of Environmental Clearance, nearly a year ago, has caused irreversible changes in the character of the Wetland. The Authority also observed that progressively these wetlands have been converted for agricultural use and at least 10% in the locality has since been converted so far including the raised project site and being Ecologically Important, there should be a Total Ban on further conversion.

Concealment and/or submission of false or Misleading Information or Data 

The EIA Report in respect of ECE TPP appears to have deliberately suppressed or concealed the information regarding the location of the project in Wetland area and failed to mention the fact of the presence Telineelapuram–Important Bird Area Site ( IBAS) within 2.5 Km from the project site.

With regard to ecological sensitivity of the area, the certification by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of AP that there are no National Parks, Sanctuary, Elephant/Tiger Reserve, Migratory Path (existing as well as proposed) within 10 Km radius of the project site is nothing but deliberate misleading information and suppression of the fact of the presence of Telineelapuram –IBAS- within 2.5 Km from the proposed project site. 


 The MOEF justified the granting of Environmental Clearance for the ECE Project, in spite of the reservations expressed by the Sub-committee of EAC, saying that Dept. of Environment &Forests , Govt of AP, vide its letter dated 09-02-2009, confirmed that the project site does not fall within Naupada Swamps and there are no conservation sites near the project site. This ignores the fact of the presence of Telineelapuram –Important Bird Area Site (IBAS) within 2.5 Km from the project site. and the ground reality that the project site is marshy/wetland. It also ignores the fact that Naupada Swamps is one of the 55 wetlands prioritized for conservation by the AP Forest Department.

Penal Action 

 It is therefore requested that necessary penal action be considered and initiated in accordance with Sections 15, 17 and 19 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, against the officials responsible for suppressing the ground realities & submitting incorrect reports in respect of NCC and ECE Projects at Sompeta and Bhavanapadu respectively   and the Environmental Clearance  granted to ECE Project at Bhavanapadu be cancelled, In accordance with Para 8(vi) of EIA Notification dated 14-09-2006, after giving a personal hearing to the project proponent, and following the principles of natural justice.