Areas of work: Reviving the Yamuna, flood plains, encroachment on the ridges; their current campaign includes working on invasive water extraction from the Yamuna flood plains aquifer
Recommendations: The entire process of EIA should be abolished – it gives birth to a bureaucratic set-up which we can do without. All areas of great natural value such as the Ridge should be mapped and rendered sacrosanct and the concerned authorities should put a complete ban on establishment of any industrial projects in these areas.
Area of work: Child rights. This was her first exposure to the subject of green clearances. She said: “I think CSE is doing a great job by bringing together people from different places and ensuring better co-ordination, as well as cross learning.”
Areas of work: Interlinking of rivers, hazardous waste trading, ban on asbestos; one of the ongoing campaigns include the ‘Anti Waste-to-Energy Campaign’ in Okhla, Delhi
Recommendations: There should be no plant without the consent of the public under any circumstance. The Environmental Clearance and Public Hearing processes should be built into the Company Bill, 2010.
Dr A Srinivasan
Area of work: The institute, which is under the state government’s Department of Fisheries and Environment, works to create awareness among the people on the marine ecosystem and the adverse effects of pollution on it. According to Dr Srinivasan, “Shore-based industries – such as shrimp farms -- release their effluents into the sea. The Fisheries College and Research Institute provides education and training on treating such effluents, managing the waste and water quality and protecting marine species.”
Recommendations: Pollution management, according to him, should be a critical determinant for giving clearance to projects.
Dr Y Krishna Murthy
Area of work: Dr Murthy, an anesthetist by profession, has been at the forefront of an intense agitation in Sompeta for protecting wetlands against a coal-based thermal power project (the Nagarjuna CC power project). He says the project will destroy the wetland and affect the livelihoods and water sources of the surrounding villages, and could lead to health problems. Dr Murthy has assisted the villagers with PILs in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, and has filed a case with the green tribunal, on which a judgement is expected soon.
Recommendations: Government should ask independent agencies to do the EIA reports. Monitoring all along is extremely important. He says: “In a democratic country, things are being done in an undemocratic way.”
Area of work: Advocacy in mining areas on health issues, specifically of women and children
Recommendations: Usually, district-level data on forest land and other basic statistics are missing; availability of the data and accessibility to it should be looked into. Monitoring must happen at the Gram Sabha level.
Area of work:Climate change and water issues in Odisha. This includes raising alarmbells, helping communities adapt, reclaim land in villages, water harvesting structures and migration.
Recommendations: It is a non-existing mechanism, a farce. Revisit EIAs approvals and punish consultants.
Ashwini K Mohanto
Areas of work: Forest protection and MFP, forest rights, illegal mining, campaign against polluting sponge iron plants, groundwater, pollution in the Brahmini river
Areas of work: Environment protection, the Satkhusa tiger reserve, mining, EIAs and public consultations -- one of the key campaigns he is involved in is the fight against grant of forest clearance to the Jindal Steel Power Plant in Angul.
Recommendations: Forest clearance should be given first, followed by environmental clearance, because in Odisha companies easily acquire community (gochar) land. Land should be demarcated properly into revenue, forest, community etc.
Shankar Prasad Pani
Areas of work: Forest and environmental clearances, forest management, wastes (bio medical, municipal wastes), sustainable livelihoods, etc. Current campaigns are on community forest management (CFM), sustainable livelihoods and economic democratisation, land rights, environmental governance (EIA litigation) and biodiversity conservation
Recommendations: Forest clearance should be granted only after compliance to the provisions of the FRA has been achieved. The monitoring mechanism of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) should be stronger – in Goa, for instance, no mining can happen without the approval of the NBW, but Vasundhara found 10 companies violating this proviso.
Ranjit K Patnaik
Areas of work: Participatory development, social management, third party quality audit of projects, soil and water management, organises youth and locals for various development activities – has launched a campaign on environment conservation in the area around Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, where he is working on displacement issues.
Recommendations: Mining should not be allowed in sal forests; open cast mining is a huge issue in the area.
Area of work: Empowerment of women and dalits, forest rights, displacement of indigenous tribes, domestic violence -- current campaigns include one on acquisition of forest land and rehabilitation with respect to Jindal Steel Power Plant. Is also working on the issue of single mothers in mining areas, where women are subjected to sexual exploitation by mine workers.
Recommendations: In coal mining areas, companies should invest in periphery development, compensatory afforestation, CSR activities, treatment of overburden dumps, and green cover.
Areas of work: Livelihoods, bonded labour, grain and seed banks, district level advocacy, ensuring that government entitlements at the community-based organization (CBO) level are met; current campaigns focus on freeing bonded labour and compliance with forest laws. In 2011, 5,000 people were reportedly given forest land pattas, but no community pattas were given.
Recommendations: Those who are tilling the land, should get the rights -- if a person is tilling 8 acres, why should he get a patta for just 2 acres? FRA should be implemented properly – plants like the cement factory in Badapadar gram panchayat need to be shut down. For bonded labour, the government should rehabilitate those who are freed.
Ranjit Kunar Pangi
Areas of work: Forest land (no community pattas have been given in this area), women’s rights, sexual harassment women working in mining areas, children’s rights
Recommendations: Stricter implementation of FRA – in NALCO, the annual Rs 6 crore development money which is reserved for the community, being used by the company on aircraft. Development funds should not be used only at the town level -- villages should also get the benefits. As in the case of forest land, rights to revenue land should be given in the name of both husband and wife.
Nicholas Barla and Pradeep Hansda
Areas of work: Protection of rights of tribals and the poor, providing legal assistance to these communities, dialogue with government and advocacy, awareness programmes on the laws like PESA and FRA, impacts of mining and sponge iron industry. Specific areas in mining include, for instance, dolomite quarrying in Sundergarh district. In dolomite mining, even the smallest quarry needs 10 hectares of land. The blasting leaves craters up to 100 feet deep. Since village wells have a maximum depth of 30 feet, all the water flows into the craters and water sources can, thus, dry up. Pradeep, who is an advocate, mentions a specific case: in Bonrai village of Akurpally gram panchayat, two mines have been operating on gochar land. The owners are now trying to turn the mines into a company, so that they can throw out the villagers. Another concern that the Manch has is the sexual harassment of tribal women by dumper drivers and mining contractors.
Recommendations: An MoU should be signed only after the grams sabhas have been consulted – it is imperative to get the villagers’ consent to a project. Development benefits should reach the villages. In public hearings, restrict the people attending them to the age group of 35-45. Older people can be easily influenced and bought over by alcohol, says Pradeep. A public hearing should be restricted to the affected village, and not others in a 10 km radius, as neighbouring villages may actually have a stake in keeping the industry located where it is.
Areas of work: Industrial pollution in Kalinganagar, deforestation -- people from other parts of the state are coming and building homes on the deforested land, the landless Mahria community, sexual harassment by contractors, leading to unwanted motherhood.
Area of work: Environmental law and governance
Recommendations: Democratize the process of selection of expert members. Transparency should be ensured. Process should be made more participatory. Instead of creating new authorities every now and then, strengthen the existing authorities.
Areas of work: Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, town planning and urban development (lake conservation, traffic congestion, noise pollution, tree protection) -- says Jaitapur will affect marine biodiversity, flora and fauna.
Recommendations: For EIAs, the research should be done by a third party – not by organisations like NEERI. This third party should also be responsible for clearances and scrutiny. A committee should be constituted which would include NGOs, communities, experts, scientists.
Jhaman Singh and Banarasi Singh
Areas of work: Education, health, environment, current campaigns include protection of forests in Jharkhand – specifically, opposing ESSAR and other companies which are clearing forests to set up their plants
Recommendations: People should be made aware of the issues and raise their voices against destruction of forests. The Dialogue’s charter of demands must be implemented and met with strictly.
Kant Clement Gaikwad
Areas of work: Jungle corridors (especially elephant corridors) threatened by Coal India Ltd, social awareness through nukkad nataks/seminars, rehabilitation of project affected people (PAPs). Some of the proposed industrial projects in the Damodar area which the Andolan is worried about includes the Mittal Steel Plant at Bhurkanda, Talgarija Steel Plant, and the NTPC’s proposed thermal power plant at Tandwa. According to Gaikwad, “all this is leading towards a black desert of tomorrow”.
Recommendations: Stop pollution in the river by industrial projects. In Jharkhand, none of the pollution/environmental acts are implemented – hence, some intervention is needed here.
Onkar Vishwakarma + Suman Kumar Mehta
Areas of work: Birhor community, human rights and environment, community and child rights and child labour, empowerment of youth and tribals, forest issues, stone crushing industry and the illegal stone mining mafia (Bihar gets its supply of surkhi (small stones) from Koderma). Current campaigns include work against flouting of clearance conditions, abuse of women and children, land acquisition in forest areas as well as pushing for compensatory afforestation.
Recommendations: Put a stop to the reign of the stone mafia. Existing crushers should be regulated. Rights of workers and children should be looked into. Implement compensatory afforestation immediately (“Koderma has been converted from a green garden to a barren land).
Mangal Murmu and Ashish Birulee
Area of work: Public awareness and movement against uranium radiation, research-based activism, industrial labour and safe working conditions, compliance of international standards in industries, impacts of uranium mining on people and environment, public hearings and their conduct
Key concerns raised: On the conduct of public hearings – practice of company workers and employees joining the public hearings instead of the affected people, conducting the hearing within the company premises, incorrect newspaper advertisements of the hearings, panchayats not informed about the hearings, difficulty in getting access to the EIA/EMP reports, irregular land acquisition practices, safety norms not followed (for instance, absence of such norms near the tailing pond leads to pond water leaching into groundwater)
Recommendations: There should be public/stakeholder involvement in decision-making. Public hearings must be conducted in a fair and impartial manner, not as a formality. Sharing of profits is important – there should be equitable distribution of the fruits of development. The environment conditions for mining should be stringent.
Areas of work: Displacement issues, upliftment of adivasis
Recommendations: Displacement issues need resolution. Avoid the breakdown of the relationship between nature and tribal society.
Areas of work: EIA/RTI/advocacy (legislative and parliamentary human rights and social justice), social and environmental audits, monitoring CDM projects, EPH
RecommendationS: Social audit/social monitoring is critical.
Areas of work: Nirma issue – has won a case in the Supreme Court. But the Gujarat government has not cancelled the mining lease for the Nirma cement plant till now, so this is now his current focus. Lignite mining in Bhavnagar – incomplete information being given in public hearings (which leaves the public ‘unaware’), environmental and forest clearance conditions flouted.
Areas of work: Upliftment of poor people and tribals, opposing development projects such as the Tata Steel Plant, fighting against Naxalism
Areas of work: Public hearings, generating awareness about the impacts that will occur due to the coming of industries, working against clearances granted to mining/power projects in the country; FRA is another focus area.
Recommendations: Many EIA reports made by consultants for companies turn out to be fakes, hence close scrutiny is required. EIA should have social impact assessment also, so that the people affected can be taken care of.
Krishna Prasad Sinha
Areas of work: RTI activist, FRA, tribal rights
Recommendations: Focus should be on community rights. Community assets should not be taken up for projects.
P C Jha
Areas of work: Works independently to support NGOs and ecological issues; is involved in the anti-nuclear campaign covering nuclear plants of Gorakhpur, Haryana, Koodankulam and Jaitapur
Recommendations: Strong framework must be developed in the interest of people’s rights and environmental justice.
Areas of work: Mobilising people to fight against mining issues, helping tribals get education and preserving culture
Recommendations: Strictly enforce the existing laws to protect the environment.
Areas of work: Land rights, public hearings, forcible displacement, environmental degradation. One of the key ongoing campaigns is focused on Lohandiguda’s Tata Steel project (5-MTPA sponge iron plant)
Recommendations: Complete transparency of EIA in a free and fair manner (in most cases this is not done). Minimium use of police force (they are to protect, not intervene and aid corporates). There should be some kind of independent agency/overarching authority over the district administration (which is callous and creates the maximum mischief). ‘Sponsored rowdyism’ by corporates for whom the EIA is conducted should be stopped.
Mahesh K Patel
Areas of work: Public hearings, environmental awareness. Points out that once an industry takes root, it is extremely difficult to remove it. So the people should act before the MoUs are signed. Hence, the public hearing process is crucial. Mentions the case of the wine distillery in Kirna village -- in 2010, a jan sunwai successfully stopped the distillery, though it still holds on to 9 acres of land. Says: “There are some ground rules on the public hearing process – villagers need to know what to do and what not to do. For instance, they should not provoke police action, and should use written communication in matters relating to the public hearing. His organisation is now advising villagers on how to oppose the MoUs.
Recommendations: Use of local language is a must for public hearings. To maintain impartiality, do not use state funds for organizing the hearing.
Recommendations: The 45 days notice for public hearings is too less a time – the hearings cannot be advertised properly in this limited period. The EIA documents must be made available, and the terms of reference in it must be adhered to. Sarpanches should be held accountable – sometimes, a sarpanch does not show the notice and chooses to disappear during the notice period. Companies should not be allowed to begin their work before the issue of land acquisition is sorted out – often, a company confidently goes on with the processes though land has not been acquired, quite sure in the belief that land will be given to it.
Ajit Kr Singh and Ram Pukar Rai
Areas of work: Fighting against an Utkal Asbestos Ltd (UAL) plant in Bihar. The EIA report for this plant is full of misleading and incorrect information – there are 12 villages in the area, and the report says there are none; data and maps are incorrect; and the population has not been counted properly. Officials are corrupt – with their connivance, the project proponent did not allow a full public hearing.
|Vijay Kumar Singh
Secretary, Lokprabhat, Nawada, Bihar
Areas of work: Agriculture, education, health, upliftment of the Musahar community, NREGA
Recommendations: Proper scrutiny of the projects, and proper social impact assessment before giving clearance is necessary. Clearances should be given depending on the kind of industry.
Coordinator (Women’s Rights), Lokprabhat, Nawada, Bihar
Areas of work: Women’s empowerment, health, education
Spokesperson, Forum for Siang Dialogue, Pasi Ghat, East Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh
Areas of work: Land and forest rights, mega dams and the damage they are doing, protection of rivers and waterways.
Recommendations: Public hearing is a crucial process: people should be made aware of the plan, and only if the project affected people (PAP) agree, then the project should proceed. Public hearings should be held in all affected villages. Corruption should be stopped. Says Taram: "We are sandwiched in a conflict. The Siang river has been ours for ages. The government is paying no heed to the fact that we worship our culture, forests and customs, and is going ahead with planning a dam.”
Vaishali A Sangma
Secretary, Integrated People for Tourismand Conservation and President, Garo Hills Antimining and Conservation Forum, Meghalaya
Areas of work: Conservation of ecosystem, illegal coal mining, forest clearance for coal mining projects
Recommendations: The views of NGOs should be taken into account. There should be complete transparency in the green clearance process, and vigorous monitoring and proper enforcement of laws.
Ramesh Kumar Mumukshu
Parvatiya Lok Vikas Samiti, Sustainable Approach of Development (SADA), Uttarakhand
Areas of work: Advocacy for better governance, RTI activist. Has been campaigning against the EIA report on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basins (the case is in the National Green Tribunal). In 2010, he had filed a case in the High Court against 56 hydel projects; by September, all the projects were scrapped.
Recommendations: Participation in the public hearing should be increased. Making the people aware should be a key strategy. Proper implementation of regulations is also important. A balanced approach is needed: environmental conservation should be through development of the people.
Areas of work: Social mobilization by participatory approach, disaster mitigation, training in community-based disaster preparation (CBDP), training masons for building earthquake-resistant homes with local materials
Recommendations: Involve the community right from the planning stage. Keep them as stakeholders. In the case of central and state government-run programmes, the public often does not know how it will be affected by a programme or what benefits it could get.
Hiremath S R
Areas of work: Leads a campaign for banning all mining activities in Bellary
Recommendations: Put moratoriums on mining activities in all states where the ecological and social fabric of the region is being threatened
| Mohini Poojary
Managing Trustee, Tribals’ Educational and Environment Development Trust, Yellapura, Mundergod, Karnataka
Areas of work: Tribal empowerment, education, and implementation of FRA in Mundergod and Yellapura
Recommendation: Build awareness.
Gaiman Prasad and Ranjeet Gupta
Recommendations: The administration must announce and advertise the public hearing properly in local newspapers and through loud speakers in the project affected areas. Trees and forests should not be cut to make power plants. Give the poor alternative fuel sources (like LPG), so that they do not have to depend on forests for wood. Use technology to offset pollution.
Murali Das Sant
Areas of work: Forest and land rights of villagers (especially tribals), building awareness and advocacy, mining and its impacts, implementation of forest laws
Recommendations: EIA laws, and the consequences of the projects being undertaken, should be conveyed to the local public well in advance. Project EIAs should be in Hindi and there should be emphasis on the public consultation and interface with the appropriate authorities.
Areas of work: Rights of tribals, implementation of the Forest Rights Act – the organisation has helped around 8,000 tribal families acquire their land rights and nistar rights.
Recommendations: Micro planning for defining better boundaries for tribal villages, clearer definition of forest and nistar rights, mapping of villages for better distinction of forest rights, institution of community forest rights.
Areas of work: Livelihoods, natural resources, forest land
Recommendations: A mapping and analysis of forest land is not happening properly --specific guidelines are needed for this. EIAs must also cover resources like wildlife or herbal medicines, and they should pay heed to health issues and to impacts on culture, food habits etc.
Some key ideas: Can CSE become a hub for diverse NGOs, help them build up a network, and facilitate a ‘soochana aadan-pradan kendra’? Can CSE train local leaders on all aspects of clearances, especially what the laws say, how the local leaders can use these laws, etc? This help in capacity building of the local leaders so that they can stand up to bureaucrats. Can this Dialogue be also replicated at the state level, in various states?
Areas of work: RTI activism, town planning, quarrying – excavation of Sahyadri world heritage site and the non-compliance of rules and laws in this case has become a campaign issue.
Recommendations: All the information should be in the public domain. Most township projects are intended only for the rich – just about 10 per cent is used for the poor; this must change. In this country, there is a limit on the area of land a person can hold. Anybody violating this provision should face severe penalty.
Areas of work: Hazardous wastes, water pollution
Recommendations: Stop the critical pollution of this area.
Areas of work: Rights of fisherfolk, thermal power plant, SEZs, protection of the Kutch coastline, mangrove destruction, protection of marine biodiversity
M S H Sheikh
Areas of work: Fisheries, coastal issues and coastal communities. The Centre has studied more than 90 EIAs and raised its voice in an equal number of public hearings. It is currently running a campaign with local communities on the disposal of illegal wastes in Surat.
Recommendations: The process of EIA must be more transparent and should focus on analyzing the cumulative impacts. Post-project monitoring should be done by independent agencies and reports with recommendation should be made public. Land acquisition and R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) should be clearly included in the EIA and be a part of EIA process. The website of each project must disclose all necessary details about the project.
Area of work: Groundwater, organic farming, raising awareness among farmers
Areas of work: Rights of mine workers, tribals and local communities -- the aim is to create a single unit to address all the issues faced by villagers pertaining to water, land, electricity, mining, etc, instead of having to go to various departments in order to get clearances or note grievances. Another issue addressed by the campaign has been that of stabilizing the mining sector, by bringing together workers to work in a single mine in their village instead of migrating to other villagers looking for work. The group has also focused on alternative employment options for women.
Recommendations: The public hearing process needs to be better organized and managed to ensure complete participation of the stakeholders.
Area of work: Climate hazards and water -- includes research on adaptation issues on the Brahmaputra floodplains, managing flash floods, environmental security of riverine islands, documenting local and traditional adaptation practices
Recommendations: EIAs compromise on scientific evidence, livelihoods, existing laws and norms. The process needs a complete overhaul.
Rama L Velip
Area of work: Working on anti-mining campaign since 1943.
Recommendations: Forest clearances should not be given, especially for mining.