AP CM Making False Claims On Environmental Clearances For Power Projects: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) takes strong exception to the contents of the letter written by AP Chief Minister K Rosaiah to Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh appealing to the Centre ‘not to rescind approvals’ for various power projects in AP. The CM makes the claim that ‘due process’ was followed to obtain environment clearances (EC) for these projects.

Mr Rosaiah also states that his government is conscious of the potential impact of the projects on environmental balance and has ensured that “development does not come at a cost to the environment and to the detriment of local inhabitants”.

These are false claims. To state the examples of Nagarjuna Construction Company’s (NCC) proposed thermal plant at Sompeta and the East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd’s  (ECEPL) plant in the Naupada swamp area in Santhabommali mandal of Srikakulam district: Both are ill-conceived power projects that will destroy local ecology, degrade valuable wetlands, adversely effect the coastal environment and undermine people’s livelihood.

The NCC and ECEPL were accorded environment clearances by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) on the basis of an erroneous Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report that was initially put out, by suppression of crucial facts and willful misrepresentations by government officials. These thermal plants were proposed in areas that are essentially unique wetland systems endowed with high ecological value and rich biodiversity. We have all along maintained that the location of these projects conflicts with both conservation and livelihood objectives. The July 15 judgement of the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) cancelling the environment clearance given to the NCC was a vindication of our position.

Mr Rosaiah and his Ministers mouth platitudes time and again expressing concern for the environment but the reality on the ground is that the State government is systematically pushing ahead a corporate-driven agenda that is resulting in grave environmental and livelihood destruction. A reckless unconcern and contempt for the ecology and people’s livelihood is the hallmark of these endeavors.

The State government has deliberately falsified the ecological significance of the land handed over by it to the NCC and the ECEPL by brazenly showing valuable wetlands as wastelands. The willful misrepresentation of facts stretches all the way from the tahsildhar, RDO, the District Collector to senior officials in the government. Due process, contrary to the Chief Minister’s lofty claim, was clearly given the go-by and not adhered to, not once but time and time again.

Petitions against such disregard for norms and the law are not based on presumptions, as the CM alleges, but on solid facts that can be verified on site. The contentions of rights’ organisations and local people opposing these plants have been substantiated by several reputed bodies like the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and in the case of the Sompeta wetland upheld by the NEAA recently.

A government that takes it Constitutional obligations seriously must initiate steps to uphold the law and undo the damage already caused. It must immediately resume the ‘beela’ wetland in Sompeta that was handed over to the NCC and get a comprehensive enquiry done into the manner in which both the NCC and ECEPL were allowed to commit fraud with the connivance of government officials. A responsible government would thereafter fix accountability and ensure that those who have committed the irregularities, concealed key information, fabricated data, misrepresented facts and violated the law are brought to book. None of this has happened.

The HRF demands that the Chief Minister fulfill the Constitutional duty of protecting the environment and peoples’ livelihood instead of trying to gloss over serious illegalities committed by government functionaries to favour corporate entities.  A detailed identification, mapping and assessment of wetlands in the State must be undertaken and processes put in place to protect these ecological treasures.

The HRF welcomes the suspension by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) of environment clearance to three thermal projects in the State. We urge the MOEF to also suspend the EC given to Alfa Infraprop Pvt Ltd that is seeking to set up a thermal plant in Komarada mandal of Vizianagaram district since there are grave irregularities in the clearance regime of that project due to a nexus between State officials and the private company.

 S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF State president)

VS Krishna
(State general secretary)


Related Posts

Scroll to Top