Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bauxite Mining against Survival of Tribals & Biodiversity of Eastern Ghats

 The Speaker of AP Legislative Assembly, Sri.Nadendla Manohar, deserves to be complimented,, for out of the mill and purposeful initiative taken by him, for organizing Three Day Orientation Programme in the Agency Area of Visakhapatnam, for the first time Legislators. The object of the programme, with the focus for Legislators to understand and acquaint with the problems confronting Tribals in the Agency Areas is laudable and very much the need of the hour. 


Root Cause of Problems


The root cause of the problems of Tribals, is lack of knowledge / awareness about their basic rights / entitlements, partly attributable to illiteracy. It is aggravated by the lack of Good Government Delivery System at Grass-Roots Levels of Tribal Villages and Mandals, which is responsive, transparent, and accountable for achieving the physical targets of well intended Schemes and Programmes.


There does not seem to be proper direction, supervision, control and monitoring of the performance of VROs, MROs and MDOs, who are the key functionaries of the Delivery System at ground level. Because of political patronage, these key functionaries at grass roots levels seem to have become a law onto them, amounting to a mini parallel government, practically ignoring the writ of higher officials at Divisional and District levels, with impunity.


 The District and State Administrations seem to be preoccupied with collecting and compiling data, justifying the utilization of funds drawn against the State and Central Government Programmes and Schemes, rather than supervising, monitoring and controlling proper implementation of the Schemes and achieving the projected physical targets within the specified time frame. 


No Use of New Welfare Schemes with out Good Delivery System


The Tribals and BPL communities in most of the Rural Areas are being deprived of the benefits of well intended welfare schemes and the funds get diverted into the pockets of powerful mafia, which does not get booked because of political patronage. The well intended purpose of new schemes like "Food Security" may not be served, unless the Delivery System at Grass Roots levels is improved and made accountable, by regular monitoring and effective supervision and control at Divisional and District Levels, which should be free from political patronage.


Proposed Bauxite Mining in Agency Areas of Visakhapatnam   


The identified Bauxite Mining sites in Visakhapatnam District are in  the Bauxite Hills--Araku Group & Jerrela Group of Chintapalle -- located, in the notified Scheduled Area, which is predominantly in the hands of Tribal People. The proposed Bauxite Mining will displace Tribal Communities, disturbing Ecological Balance and the rich Biodiversity of  Eastern Ghats and the sources of  important Watersheds   apart from depriving tribal land rights and livelihoods., At the same time, the right of tribals to forest titles as per new Forest Rights Act get nullified. Yet, the costs of mining in relation to Tribal People, Forests & Environment remain unresolved, as they  have hardly been discussed, so far, outside exclusive elite policy forums, heavily influenced by corporate interests and high profile NGOs.


    The  closer scrutiny of the Mining projects in the scheduled areas, reveal maximum benefits are going to particular Private Parties with political influence who manipulate the Decision making  process and Law in their favour, while the costs of land & resource loss and environmental costs are born by poor tribal people, who are denied the "Rule of Law", 


Root Causes of Terrorism


 The private monopoly on control of natural resources such as Land, Minerals, Forests, Water etc, which is in variance with the provisions of  Article 39 ( b ) and ( C ) of The Constitution of India, contributes to a glaring disparity between the rich and the poor, which in turn invariably creates economic and social unrest,


When the deprived lots are denied access to clean air, adequate safe drinking water and soil to meet their basic human needs, we see the rise of a sense of deprivation, hopelessness, intolerance and hatred.  The desperate people can resort to desperate solutions.


 The Intolerance can, in the name of religion or ideology, fan the flames of hate and ignite a belief that terrorism is the only solution to a community's or nation's ills. As a result they may care little about themselves and the people they hurt.


 It is the forces of poverty, environmental degradation and hatred that give birth to the intolerance that can lead to fundamentalism and terrorist acts. While fighting against Terrorism, we must also expose and eliminate the forces that are instrumental for creation of Poverty & Wide Disparity, and Environmental Degradation,  that can lead to an unstable world.


The likely adverse impacts of Bauxite Mining on Peoples' Livelihoods, Rich Bio-Diversity of Eastern Ghats, the Water Sources, and Forests & Environment have generated very wide attention in north coastal AP. But the agencies concerned both at Central & State levels; seem to be blissfully ignorant of their adverse impact on important water-sheds of Sileru, Tandava Nadi etc.

The local people can not be expected to benefit from politically motivated Bauxite Mining projects, which are being bulldozed for individual benefits.  This has created unrest in the minds of Tribal Communities of the Scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam, district, which may trigger terrorist activities in the area, neutralizing the intended impact  of IAP under  LWE programmes 

 As part of the fight against Terrorism in scheduled areas of Visakhapatnam district, the Forest Clearance for Bauxite Mining Projects should be rejected outright, and the Environmental Clearances granted because of extraneous reasons, to JSW and ANRAK Projects be reviewed and cancelled before it is too late. Otherwise there is every possibility and danger of clandestine operation of their Refinery Projects, particularly that of ANRACK, which is reported to be nearing completion..





Monday, December 19, 2011

Pollution Prevention Vs. Control

 The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Govt. of India  issued guidelines  for categorization of Conditions stipulated in Environmental Clearances (E.C) granted  to different types of Industrial Activities, into "Serious" and "Not So Serious" categories,


Precautionary Principle


 As Highlighted by Supreme Court, it will not be humanly possible for the Regulating Agencies, to keep track of and monitor compliance of plethora of stipulated conditions by the industries spread all over. Moreover, stipulation of conditions / safeguards, is no way of ensuring safety under "Precautionary Principle" as  there is every likelihood that safeguards could fail either due to natural or manmade calamity, or accident or due to mechanical failure or human error.


Experience of last 3 to 4 Decades


 The experience during the last 3 to 4 decades, since The  Water Act, 1974 and  The  Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 have come into force, shows that the process of    according Environmental Clearances to Projects was not entirely based on the  understanding that ecological processes and peoples' rights to a healthy and productive environment, have to be fully respected. The process also did not cover   combined and comprehensive impacts of all kinds of projects and processes that have an impact on the environment, within the same impact zone.


 Citizens' experiences of EIA Reports, Environmental Public Hearings and the Decision Making Process for granting ECs, in respect of many projects, in the name of development are filled with disappointment, anger and frustration. There seems to   be little political will to uphold the principles behind EIA Notification and The Constitutional obligations under Articles 48-A and 51-A (g)


 Penal clauses of the Acts/ EIA Notification have not been effectively enforced by MoEF/State Agencies, which encouraged unethical practices by Project Proponents and EIA Consultants, such as presenting fraudulent, fudged and misleading reports.


Failure of Command & Control Mechanism


Especially in our present system of State controlled and managed Environmental Clearances and Monitoring, Regulation & Control of Pollution, which lacks technical competency, transparency & accountability and susceptible to external influences, the compliance of stipulated conditions appears to be a mockery of pollution control.


The experience during the last 4 decades clearly demonstrated that "Command & Control" mechanism in respect of monitoring and control of pollution has miserably failed, as demonstrated by heavily polluted water bodies and critically polluted areas.


Prevention rather than Control


Therefore it is desirable to opt for pollution abatement technologies and adoption of Clean and Waste Minimization Technologies, rather than permitting pollution to be generated and then trying to control pollution by a plethora of conditions, measures etc.


The universally accepted principles of "Burden of Proof on Polluter "and "Polluter Pays" .be enforced and implemented, to make Non-Compliance a "High-Risk Business' instead of being a "High- Profit Business" as at present. The compliance of conditions will improve without elaborate set up and much of monitoring, once the "Culprits" (Polluters) are identified & named and economically hurt & socially humiliated, by appropriate penal actions.


Specify Max. Permissible Production related Consumptions


 As pollution and waste generation by industrial activities depend on consumption of Water, Electricity, Fuels such as, coal, petroleum products, Raw Materials etc. used in the production process, the upper limits of their permitted consumption per Ton of the end product produced be clearly mentioned under special conditions, marked "Serious" in Environmental Clearance. The appropriate metering /measuring/ weighing and recording the quantities used be specified with the object of minimizing the manipulation of quantities used/consumed..  These should be categorized as "Serious" and  be monitored regularly at monthly/quarterly intervals for ensuring their strict compliance


Specify Max Permissible Production related Effluents /Pollution Levels  


The maximum permissible quantity of effluents generated per Ton of end product produced, specifying their parameters, be clearly mentioned, marked "Serious" under Special Conditions of EC.The measures to be adopted for their treatment and utilization / disposal, clearly specifying quantity and place of their discharge, as applicable, be also mentioned in E.C. As there is a possibility of diluting effluents, the sources and quantity of water permitted to be used, should be clearly mentioned with adequate metering and recording facilities.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CAG's Report for the Year ended 31 March 2010 -Dept. of MA&UD

Sanctity of Master Plan vitiated by VUDA


The deficiencies, incorrect decisions etc. of Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA), constituted in June 1978, extending its jurisdiction to VMC and 4 Municipal Towns, comprising an area of 1,721 Sq. Kms highlighted in CAG's Report for the year ended 31 st March 2010 are reproduced below:

*VUDA which was established for planned development of the City and to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants, failed to achieve its objectives to a large extent. There were huge shortfalls (64 to 100 per cent) in the achievement of the First Master Plan.

*VUDA did not also effectively coordinate with the departments/agencies concerned for implementation of the Master Plan.

*Approvals of change of Land-Use were given on a case to case basis in violation of the Master Plan, conferring undue benefits to the land owners thus, violating the sanctity of the Master Plan.

* Contract management was deficient. There was loss of revenue of Rs.355.23 Crore to VUDA in development of housing projects/satellite townships, sites etc.(at Rachakonda Village). Also, failure of VUDA in ensuring clear title of the land before commencing the Mega Housing Project at Madhuravada, resulted in unintended benefit to the Contractor.

*VUDA / Government sustained a loss of revenue of Rs15.71 Crore due to incorrect decisions by VUDA in sale/auction of Government lands ( at Madhuravada ) 

*Financial management was deficient. The Annual Accounts for the years from 2007-08 to 2009-10 had not been prepared. This is a serious lapse on the part of VUDA. Due to non- preparation of Annual accounts the financial position of the Authority could not be vouchsafed and the possibility of irregularities, frauds,etc remaining undetected could not be ruled out.

* Maintenance of cashbook was deficient and reconciliation of Cash balances was not done with the Bank Statements. Internal audit was also absent. Thus there was no assurance to VUDA that the Rules and Procedures were being complied with by various wings of VUDA

*Proper Control mechanism was not in place for redressal of Public Grievances. This was indicative of the lack of seriousness of the Authority in handling its mandate


 Observations regarding Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA)


 *Non-adherence to the tender conditions by the HMDA in auctioning the land for  development of land in the adjoining area of Hyderabad city 
  resulted in undue benefit  of Rs.239.88 Crore to the bidders.


* Due to non-incorporation of the safeguards in the agreements, the benefit of post  tender reductions in quantities did not accrue to
   Government in the construction work of PVNR Elevated Expressway Corridor. This resulted in an undue benefit of Rs.86.67  Crore

    to the Contractor.


* Deficient bidding procedure by HMDA led to award of work for a cost higher than the  lowest quoted cost by Rs.23.68 Crore in

  Phase-II of ORR Project in Hyderabad 


*In addition, the observation made in respect of VUDA regarding Change of Land- Use  is also applicable to HMDA, which resorted to change of land-uses, including the ones covered by G.O.111, on case to case basis, amounting to violation of "Sanctity  of The Master Plan",