As far as public protests go, Puducherry, formerly Pondicherry, has generally been a backwater. But the government’s resolve to fast-track a deep-water port, upgrading the existing fair-weather port, has provoked a chorus of protests from citizens across the board—NGO members, fisherfolk, lawyers, politicians and farmers.
This is a story about the environmental clearance mechanism in India. Arguably legally strong, it fails in implementation. The project proponent looks upon the mechanism as a hurdle; for the administrator, it is mere routine. For affected communities, there is only one hope: the public hearing process. But it always fails them, in the end. So where does this mechanism go wrong? What changes are needed? KUSHAL PAL SINGH YADAV looks for answers.
On the face of it, the ambitious Sethusamudram project to bridge the east coast with the west coast of the country seems a great idea. The prospect of not having to circumnavigate Sri Lanka and cutting short travel periods by 30 hours sounds as interesting as it did 150 years ago when a draft plan for the canal was first mooted (see box: Taking shape). A Tamilian dream is now beginning to take shape.
In April 2008 an expert group was set up under the chairmanship of the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs. It comprised representatives of the three industry lobbies (CII, FICCI, Assocham), the privately-owned Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services and Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation and the government-owned India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd.
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) notified the new EIA Notification in September 2006 after putting up the draft notification for public comment for a year.
Why are we looking at cities for the big change? Our cities are on a toxic spiral, urged on by growing wastefulness, energy use and car centric mobility.
Date: 28th August to 1st September 2006 Venue: Centre for Science and Environment, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 62
Date: 11th - 15th November, 2008 Venue: Centre for Science and Environment, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 62
Our country is in the throes of rapid industrialisation, which is often accompanied with massive environmental and social burdens, principally borne by communities living in the vicinity of project sites. Monitoring tools like Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), therefore, assume great significance in ensuring sound economic development without compromising on environmental and social costs. It is said that everyone from the Prime Minister downwards, is concerned with the process of environmental clearances: