Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coal was Not Sold - It Is Only Used!

 One of the Union Cabinet Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, is reported to have said that Coal was never sold from the Blocks allotted, as the coal cannot be sold under the Nationalization Policy. So there was no question of anyone benefiting from Coal Blocks allocation.  

But at the same time, he is reported to have rejected the demand for cancellation of the licenses for Coal Block allocations; as such a step would cause huge monetary loss and badly affect the country's Power Sector.

 Monetary Loss for Whom?  

If the mineral continues to remain in the Coal Blocks and is not sold when ever it is extracted, why should there be huge monetary loss by cancellation of the allocation licenses and to whom?

The Parties, who got the benefit of licenses for Coal Blocks, must have drawn huge amounts as advances from the Banks against the guarantee of the lucrative Coal Blocks. Now we know the reason for the fears of the Minister for cancellation of the licenses and who are the likely beneficiaries?

Not Sold but Used!

The Goods and Services are produced with a value addition, so that they can be sold / used / utilized to cater for the needs/services of the users/consumers.. The Coal is one such item which can be used for generation of Power, production of Steel, Cement etc. Thus the licensees for the Coal Blocks, who have the rights to mine and use the coal, get benefited even without selling Coal.

 The coal obtained from these licensed blocks, allegedly at a very low license fees, for captive consumption, will be comparatively cheaper than the coal purchased / imported from other sources. Therefore the cost of production of the end products will be comparatively much lower than the ones produced using coal at the open market prices.

The other aspect is what is the guarantee that the coal mined from these Bocks is going to be utilized for Captive Use only? The word "Captive" can disappear, as in the case of notorious " GALI -IRION ORE" Mining Lease in AP State!

Thus, Coal may not be sold, yet the Licensees of Coal Blocks, may get benefited, by the policy of allocating licenses in a non-transparent manner.    


Monday, August 27, 2012

Change Design of Polavaram Dam- Likely Watery Grave for 460,000 People


 Despite repeated objections from Experts, Civil Society, Political Leaders etc. over the present design of the Head Works (Dam) of Polavaram Project, conceived seven decades back, the State Government is going ahead by finalizing tenders for Polavaram Dam, while Govt of India seems to remain a silent spectator.


Background of Polavaram Project


The Polavaram Project, which is now being implemented with certain modifications, was originally conceived in the composite Madras State, based on the investigations made up to 1941. It was subsequently revised in 1978, 1985, 1996 & again in 2005. The Implementation of the Project with present design of the Dam, involving submergence of vast areas of land particularly Tribal Hamlets & Lands and Forest Area including that of neighboring States, has serious adverse social and environmental impacts.


Going ahead with the present design of the Dam without even examining the possible viable alternatives to mitigate adverse impacts, undermines the intra-regional equity in the State of A.P, apart from going against the Constitutional Obligations -Articles 48-A & 51-A (g), The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Forest Rights Act, Tribal Consent Act etc. and ignoring the aspirations and the needs of the stake holders, the ground realities, the technological innovations etc. 


 Polavaram Project Dam goes against "Precautionary Principle"                                          


 According to universally accepted "Precautionary Principle" forming part of  1992 Rio Declaration- if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm  to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that  the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on  those taking the action or policy decision. The decision-makers are required to anticipate harm before it occurs.


 According to expert opinion, the proposed Earthen Dam designed for Possible Maximum Flood ( PMF ) of 50 Lakh Cusecs, falls very much short of likely extraordinary flood of 90 Lakh Cusecs. In such an event the Breach (Dam Break) of the Earthen Dam is very much real and not hypothetical. "If there is a possibility for a failure to occur, it would certainly occur sometime or other" 


To day's  Policy and  Decision Makers, will be playing with the lives of about 46 Lakh people living in the delta down stream of the Dam,  by opting for Polavaram Earthen  Dam, without giving due consideration to the alternatives being proposed. This is in utter disregard to universally accepted "Precautionary Principle", which is nothing but a Criminal Act on their part.


 Objections from Orissa and Chhattisgarh States


As long as there are submersions, mostly tribal habitats, in Orissa and Chhattisgarh States, there is no way of getting the consent of these two States, for going ahead with Polavaram Dam project. As a result the project will get bogged down in the courts resulting in undue delays and wasteful expenditure of thousands of Crores of Rupees of tax payers' money, like Vamsadhara Stage II and Jhanjhavathi Projects. The only way out, is to opt for the alternatives to the Dam, which do not cause submersions in these two States. Otherwise the Project will not only be endlessly delayed, but also provides a thriving ground for Left-Wing Extremism, with associated law & order problems and social unrest & hardships.


 Environmental Clearance for Polavaram Project was a Mockery


A.P. Government is now continuing with the construction of the Project Canals (started in 2005), after obtaining stay orders from A.P. High Court on NEAA Order quashing Environmental Clearance granted by MOEF in 2005.


The MoEF accorded Environmental Clearance to the Project proposal on 25-10-2005, even without statuary Forest Clearance and National Wildlife Board Clearance, within 15 days from the date of conducting the so called EPHs (10-10-2005) , 8 days from the date of receiving the proposal from APPCB (17-08-2005) and 6 days from the date of Expert Committee recommending Clearance subject to submission of certain information (19-08-2005). Probably this may be an unusual record for clearing a major project in such a short time, in the history of MOEF.


 The Environmental Clearance thus accorded in undue haste by MoEF to Polavaram Project, even before obtaining other statuary clearances required and without Risk Assessment and Disaster Management Plans, has no validity and cannot be treated as Environmental Clearance required as per the norms of EIA Notification.


What is more interesting is that Sri.A.Raja, who is alleged to have been deeply involved in 2-G Scam, was the Hon'ble Minister for Environment and Forests , GOI, in 2005 at the time of according Environmental Clearance to Polavaram Project.


Need to reconsider Alternative Design for Dam


 Instead of requesting the neighboring States for release of waters from their reservoirs, the A.P. State can meet the requirement of water for Agriculture and Drinking purposes for most parts of the State, by maximizing the utilization of Godavari Waters, at present being drained out into Bay of Bengal. This can be achieved at the earliest possible, only by opting for viable alternatives to Polavaram Dam Project, at present being pursued by the State Administration, avoiding submersion of Tribal areas in the States of Orissa and Chhattisgarh and reducing the submersion to the barest minimum in AP State.


The alternative design presented by Er. T. Hanumantha Rao, retired E-in-C of AP and an internationally acknowledged expert on irrigation, proposes low barrages at three places (downstream of Bhadrachalam across Godavari,& Sabari and at Polavaram), in place of a Dam & Reservoir at Polavaram, similar to the one existing at Dowleswaram.


 The alternative proposal is understood to cost less, while realizing all the benefits of the earlier (Dam) proposal and avoiding submersion of any villages in the neighboring States apart from saving large number of tribal villages with about two Lakh population in A P State. It also makes use of the Canal system and other works under construction at an expenditure of more than Rs 4,000 Crores already incurred..


It is requested that the proposal of Er.T.Hanumantha Rao, about which AP Government seem to be having certain reservations about its Technical feasibility and Cost aspects, be reviewed and assessed by an "Independent Team of Experts" to be appointed by Got of India, to facilitate  its early consideration / implementation.       




If we do not learn to move forward in harmony with Nature by observing the principles of Sustainable Development & Precautionary Approach, "the worst large scale destruction can be caused by man-made activities-Nuclear Power Plants and Major Dams".


The Nuclear Power& Major Dams are not just the Evils and they are the Devils. Evil of our own making can be overcome. The Devil cannot be overcome, not even if we ourselves conjure him into being. This is why; staking our future on Nuclear Power/ Major Dams is a Pact with the Devil, impacting the generations far into the future. 



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Time for Action & Results and not for Schemes & Announcements

It is heartening to note that the  Chief Minister of AP announcing a number of measures for the benefit of the tribal people on the occasion of World Tribal Day during his visit to Tribal Areas in Khammam district and the assurance of the Speaker of AP State Legislative Assembly regarding the rites of Tribal People  on Forest Lands and the follow up action on  Araku Declaration for overall wellbeing of the Tribal People.
30 Years of inaction


 This is to bring to the kind notice of the  Chief Minister and the  Speaker, the fate of  the 10 Tribal Families of Patwarigudem (V)  Dammapeta(M), Khammam Dt. who were deprived of their Patta Lands for inclusion in the Forest Block Lachapur Extn.I, Dammapeta Range of Khammam Forest Division as far back as February 1983. Unfortunately till today, they  have  not been provided with the alternate Patta Land ordered for the  purpose. There is no response and follow up action  on letter dated 23-02-2010 addressed to  the  District Collector, Khammam and letter dated 27-05-2010 addressed to  the Chief Minister


 In spite of bringing the matter to the notice of various agencies/authorities concerned during the last 2 years, the matter which is outstanding for about 30 years, remains unsolved and rests with the Tahasildar, Dammapeta Mandal, while the District and State Administrations  become helpless onlookers.




The painful conclusion is that the Delivery Systems at the Grass Roots level are indifferent/ insensitive, unresponsive and not made accountable and  there is no effective  Governance, leave alone Good-Governance, particularly at the District Levels.


With present state of Governance at the District levels and the Govt. policies of  diverting forest and tribal lands for Bauxite Mining , no useful purpose will be served by assurances and declarations to Tribals, except widening the credibility gap about the State Administration. 



Monday, August 6, 2012

AP Bulk Drug Industry- Utter Disregard to Rule of Law!

Restriction on Production Capacities


The EIA Notification of MOEF, GOI, stipulates that construction of new projects or activities or the expansion or modernization of existing projects or activities listed in the Schedule to the Notification, entailing production capacity addition with change in process and or technology, shall be undertaken in any part of India only after the Prior Environmental Clearance from the concerned authorities.


The AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB), with a view to control the pollution load and its adverse impact on surface and ground water sources around Hyderabad, issued Notification of 14-10-1996, restricting the establishment /expansion of water polluting Industries in four districts around Hyderabad. In compliance with the Hon'ble Supreme Court interim orders dated. 12.05.1998 in W.P.N0.1056/90, the AP Govt. issued G.O.Ms.No 62 of 28-04-1999, making permanent the ban imposed by APPCB Notification, regarding the establishment /expansion of water polluting Industries -- Bulk Drugs, Pesticides (Tech), Dyes & Dye Intermediate manufacturing Industries- in industrial estates around Hyderabad.


Bulk Dug Industry- Utter Disregard to Rule of Law.


It is a well-known fact for years that the Bulk Drug Industry units located around Hyderabad,   in utter disregard to MOEF EIA Notification and AP Govt Ban Order, are indulging in manufacture of ' unconsented' products and stepping up of quantity of production without mandatory prior Environmental Clearance and leading to increased pollution load.


During one of those sporadic actions of APPCB in June/July 2012, the closure notice was served to 12 Bulk Drug Companies, whose manufacturing units located  around Hyderabad are indulging in manufacture of 'unconsented' products' and stepping up of quantity of production without mandatory prior Environmental Clearance and leading to increased pollution load.


Appellate Authority Order


 The AP State Appellate Authority, which was approached by the erring industries, is reported to have observed in its order "it was just and proper to suspend the impugned closure notice" and that the units could operate without any hindrance, but without producing 'unconsented' products.


 The surprising aspect of the Authority Order is that the units are permitted to complete production process of their current batch of drugs, including unconsented drugs, so as to save them from the likely irreparable losses. The authority also allowed the erring units the liberty to approach APPCB, in case they needed extra time to finish the current production batches, which shall be considered by APPCB.


 The Authority, which was concerned with likely losses of the Bulk Drug Companies, due to stopping the production process of unconsented (illegal) products, should have been equally concerned about the pollution load created by them and its adverse impact on Human Environment, Water Bodies and the well-being of the people. 


Bulk Drug Industry's Contempt to Society!


 While the Industry Associations are advocating the "Corporate Commitment (Responsibility) to Society", the AP Bulk-Drug Industry seem to be indulging in   manufacture of 'unconsented' (illegal) products, in utter "Contempt to Society"  by claiming that their pollution load has not increased despite increase in production quantity and introduction of new products. Even the Appellate Authority acknowledged the fact of violation of the provisions of EIA Notification, by ordering the erring units to stop manufacture of the "unconsented' products and also bring down their production capacity to permitted levels.


 The scrutiny of the past records may reveal  that some of the bulk drug manufacturing units around Hyderabad – Dr. Reddy Labs ,Aurobindo Pharma, Hetro Drugs, SMS Pharma, Krishna Parma, etc.- are known to be established violators of environmental Norms, Rules and Acts for the last one or two decades. Yet, they seem to manage without the penal action of any consequence, apparently with the patronage of the policy and decision makers from time to time. 


Myth of Pollution Load


The myth of the Pollution Load not increasing despite the increase in production quantity and introduction of new products, as claimed by the industry, can easily be countered by analyzing and monitoring the material balance, water balance etc. of the production process periodically. This can be done effectively, only if the consumption / utilization data is correctly metered / measured and recorded and submitted in "Form V -  Environmental Statement  for the Financial Year ending 31 st March,"  in accordance with Rule 14 of The Environment (Protection) Rules 1986 


In order to have energy and resource efficient process that minimizes both inputs of energy and materials and outputs of waste products and pollutants, the Environmental Clearances to be granted for various products,  may consider stipulating quantum of consumption of energy, water, solvents, materials etc. and generation of waste products and pollutants for production of unit of final product .


Lack of Consistent & Effective Action By APPCB


Unfortunately the APPCB seemed to have remained a helpless onlooker, while the Bulk Drug industries of international repute, violated the ban order, by producing bulk drugs far in excess of Types/Numbers and Quantities permitted prior to 01-01-1997 the effective date of the Ban, by changing the product mix, out sourcing the intermediate products etc. .This could have easily been detected and stopped well in time by effective regular monitoring of the production data and initiating deterrent Penal Action against the erring units.


In accordance with sub-section 15 (1) of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 , whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of this Act, or the rules made or orders or directions issued there under, shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention , be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend for one Lakh rupees, or with both.


It is not understood why APPCB continues to go through the routine of issuing closure notices to repeatedly erring units instead of initiating penal action under sub-section 15( 1 ) of Environment ( Protection) Act 1986 ?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bio Diversity Global Summit- Window Dressing of Hyderabad!

 It is heartening to note that Hyderabad City is going to host the 11 th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COD) from October 01-19, 2012. The mega  event, which is expected to be attended by Prime Ministers/ Ministers of about 200 Nations is going to be the first really Global Summit in Hyderabad City. The convention, while reaffirming the sovereign rights of Nations over their biological resources, is expected to emphasize the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

 Indian National Scenario of Bio-diversity

India's bio-diversity is under an unprecedented assault from multiple sources under the guise of Development and GDP growth rate. The vast tracts of wilderness areas are submerged due to the ill planned dams, fragmented and destroyed due to large industrial and infrastructure projects and grabbing the forest lands by avaricious builder-politician-bureaucrat nexus.

 Out of the reported global population of Greater Adjutant Storks (GAS) of 1500, around 900 are found in the plains of the Brahmaputra valley in Assam. Their numbers are reported to be declining because of on going destruction/encroachment of wetlands and removal of nesting and roosting trees.

Guwahati is now reported to have the largest concentration of these birds in the world, with majority of them seen in the city's only garbage dumping site near the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary, as majority of the roosting trees are located in private lands and most of them have been cut down. 


 AP State Scenario of Bio-diversity  


Out of 99 National Parks, forming part of the Network of 664 Protected Areas in the country, 5 National Parks are identified and notified in AP State. Hyderabad has the distinction of having 3 of them- KBR, Mrugavani and Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Parks- in and around the city. These 3 National parks are facing the problems either by Human Assault, Fragmentation, and Official Neglect.


The notified Kolleru Wild Life Sanctuary (KWLS) Kolleru is one of the Ramsar Wetlands of international importance identified for protection under Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, of which India is a signatory. Yet it was plundered by fish-pond lobby with the connivance of the policy and decision makers, till the Supreme Court intervened. Because of political compulsions, the A P State Legislative Assembly passed a resolution recommending the reduction of  the area of KWLS  from Contour +5 to +3, for satisfying  the greed of fish-pond lobby at the expense of KWLS.


The wetlands of considerable ecological importance near Telineelapuram, an Important Bird Area ( IBA) in Srikakulam district are being destroyed by the proposed Thermal Power Plants in the area.


Window Dressing of Hyderabad for Global Summit !


From the above it is evident that the Government of India (GOI) and the State Governments do not honour their Constitutional obligation and commitment to International community, to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the biodiversity.

What message GOI is trying to convey, by spending huge sums of tax payers money, just to improve the appearance of roads covered by the route of the VIP Delegates to the venue of the Global Summit? What useful purpose will be served, while the policies of GOI continue to ignore the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components?


It is nothing but a mockery & cosmetic widow dressing, resulting in wasteful expenditure and serving no useful purpose of any consequence.