Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nuclear Safety is not an Issue of MOEF?

A day after a protester was killed in police firing in Jaitapur- west coast of India, protesting against the proposed largest Nuclear Power Park in the world, Sri Jairam Ramesh, Hon'ble Minister for Environment & Forests, GOI  is reported to have said what happened in Jaitapur is "most depressing" and it caused him "great anguish."


The minister is also reported to have added that MOEF has "nothing to do with" land acquisition, compensation, economics of nuclear power and nuclear safety-- "Those were not issues that the MoEF is either competent to deal with or it is mandated to deal with. Looking into the environmental aspects of the Nuclear Power Project is the only mandate of his ministry. One should understand this fact,"

 Human Environment major Issue!


The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the implementation of which is mandated with MOEF, has important constitutional implications with international background. The Act clearly drew its inspiration from the proclamation adopted by the United Nations Conference on the "Human Environment" in June 1972 and reaffirmed in June 1992.  


 "The protection and improvement of the Human Environment is a major issue, which affects the well being of people and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the people of whole world and the duty of all governments".


The Environment (Protection) Act 1986


The Act is enacted to enable coordination of activities of the various regulatory agencies, creation of an authority or authorities with advocate powers for environmental protection, regulation of discharge of Environmental Pollutants, speedy response in the event of accidents threatening environment and deterrent punishment to those who endanger Human Environment,( water, air & land and the interrelationship, which exists among and between water, air, land and human beings, other living concerns ,plants, micro-organism and property),Safety and Health.


How can Environmental Aspects be dealt without Nuclear Safety?

How can MOEF, entrusted with the task of enforcing Environment (Protection) Act 1986, can say that nuclear safety Is not the issue that the MoEF is mandated to deal with? How can MOEF Look into the environmental aspects of the Nuclear Power Projects, without addressing Nuclear Safety? These are very serious issues to be left in ambiguity and must be sorted out without any delay

The AERB, in its present form, entrusted with the task of Nuclear Safety, should be scrapped and an independent, autonomous and technically competent body to monitor and regulate Nuclear Safety should be constituted as part of proposed NEAMA, independent of DAE which controls NPCIL.


The people of this country have the right to know about economics of nuclear power and nuclear safety (Articles 21, 39 and 48-A of The Constitution of India), irrespective of the mandate of MOEF.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hyderabad City- Already Breathing Less-Going to be Much Less


 Hyderabad -<아>Pressure on Land 


The Hyderabad Master Plan-2020 makes provision for land-use requirement for an anticipated 2021 population of around 136 Lakhs for Hyderabad Metropolitan Area, against the population of about 70 Lakhs, as given below:


                                                                             Area in Sq. KMs in

                                                                           2001                     2021       

  Utilization                                                   Area       %           Area       %    


a) Residential                                              290     15.56        576      30.90


b) Commercial/



     Transportation                                       250    13.41         480      25.75


c) Water Bodies /

     Reserve Forests                                   203    10.89        203      10.89


d) Agriculture/


    Hills/ Conservation                                 1121    60.14        605      32.46


                                     Total                      1864   100.00      1864    100.00 


Reduction of Lung Spaces


 The scrutiny of the above data shows tremendous pressure on Hyderabad urban land for Residential, Commercial etc uses, shooting up from 540 in 2001 to 1056 Sq.Kms in 2021 nearly doubled and as a result the Agriculture, Recreation, Conservation etc area shrinking from 1121 to 605 Sq.Kms by 2021, nearly by half. The organized recreational/open spaces occupy less than 1% land providing hardly per capita recreational area of 1.16 Sq.Mtrs, against minimum basic requirement of 3.00 Sq.Mtrs. But with further official reduction of the lung spaces, not to speak of illegal encroachments, will make the breathing of the City more difficult.


Forests & Water Bodies


Even though no change is projected in the area covered by Forests and Water bodies, the ground reality is that much of the area shown as Forest / Water body has been diverted / encroached for other purposes. The State Government has been liberally allotting large areas of land covered under Reserved Forests & Water Bodies to various individuals & organizations, granting  relaxations on selective basis, in the name of promoting Eco-Tourism projects with Public Private Partnership (PPP), by unilaterally modifying the land use, unmindful of  its long term adverse impacts


The diversion of 110.87Ha of Forest Land, in the name of development of Eco-Tourism projects- Botanical Gardens, Night Safari & Eco-Park and Bird Park- in Kothaguda RF, in the close vicinity of Madhapur High-tech City, is a classic example of depleting much needed urban Green Belts and Lung Spaces. The Citizens of Hyderabad are already experiencing the adverse impacts of so called  Eco-Tourism Projects –Necklace Road, IMAX Theater, Jala Vihar, Eat Street etc around Husain Sagar- by way of shrinkage of the Water Body &  its pollution and Traffic congestion, Air Pollution etc The location of Imliban Bus Station in Musi River is another example of reduction of water body.


 Urban  Land Has Become A Commodity


 .The Housing Boards, HUDA,  & other agencies are resorting to auction of lands to meet short-term requirements of funds Of course, HUDA itself had   become a Real Estate Developers and resorted to auctioning  large chunks of land in the conservation areas, of Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and other areas, with the sole object of mobilizing funds to cater for projects like Fly- Overs, Outer Ring Road, etc unmindful of the land requirements of the generations to come and their well being. Similarly APIIC had been allotting large chunks of lands to real estate developers and corporate bodies and granting various relaxations on selective basis, in the name of attracting investments and providing employment opportunities, unmindful of the land use and its long term adverse impacts.


 No Plan Is A Good Plan for A Violator


 A plan may be a good plan or a bad plan, but for someone who wants to break the law, no plan is a good plan. If the citizens are ready to buy apartments in buildings that visibly violate all health and safety norms, if they patronize shops / malls that have no parking space and also build houses in tank beds that will be flooded in the monsoon, no amount of policing can fully enforce any land use. It is worse if the State itself becomes the Violator or the Culprit. 


 The Comprehensive Land Use & Environmental Protection should be the integral part of the Master Plan. The Zoning Plans and Building Rules should be subordinate to Master Plan. The Protection & Preservation of natural resources and community's ecological infrastructure should be the major concern. These include- Water, Energy, Open Spaces, Water Bodies, Rivers, Forests etc. The Conservation and not mitigation of the damage being done, should be the focus of development, under universally accepted "Precautionary Principle"


 Mother of all Urban Land Auctions


 The  HUDA Auction of the prime piece of land of 5.8 acres (23,500 Sq.Mtrs) adjoining Check Post Junction of Jubilee Hills for a staggering Rs. 1.42 Lakhs per Sq.Mtr, earning whooping Rs. 333.70 Crores, is Mother of all Auctions of Urban Land in the State at that time.


 This transaction, which has the potential of converting Jubilee Hills Check Post Junction to another Punjagutta Junction, is in violation of Urban Land Ceiling of 1,000 Sq Mtrs, Building Rules for FSI of 1:1.5, Height Restriction etc, which are reported to have been relaxed on a selective basis, which is discriminatory and against the public interest and opinion.  This short sighted act of auctioning the invaluable piece of prime land adjoining KBR National Park, takes away the Buffer Zone and a strip of 5.5 km Walkway, permitting a massive commercial activity right on the fringe of the National Park.  


Mr.Jagmohan, Former Minister for Urban Development, Govt. of India said that "Cities had been taken Over by the Land and Builders Mafia"  


 Let Us NOT SELL and SAVE for Future Generations 


 The important aspect to remember is that Hyderabad Metropolitan Area (HMA) alone is not Andhra Pradesh and Madhavapur, Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills alone is not HMA. Hyderabad endowed with heritage and nature will have to be saved for the future by proper land use planning and management and not by treating it as a Commodity for meeting short term needs, which amounts to selling the future of HMA !