Public hearing was rigged, says eco group

Environmental impact of thermal plant construction overlooked

The organisation, a prominent group engaged in environmental protection in this region, has urged the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to disregard the hearing and direct the authorities concerned to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) again and hold the public hearing afresh.

The organisation has alleged that the public hearing was conducted with a pre-determined and prejudiced mind which was evident from the environmental issues taking a back seat, while concerns of land losers such as higher compensation and provision of employment dominated the proceedings. It has objected the announcement of the issue of compensation cheques by the Deputy Commissioner, who is the Chairman of the Environment Public Hearing Committee.

“The authorities had a forgone conclusion that the environmental hearing was a mere ritual as they went ahead to discussing issue of cheques without obtaining environmental clearance from the MoEF,  which is an essential requirement,” they alleged.

Organisation president Deepak G Gala and secretary Chandrakant Patil maintained that the environment public hearing held at the project site was tailor-made to suit the needs of Government officials for they were in a hurry to push the project without applying their mind on the disastrous effects on the environment.

Unanswered or snubbed

Certain issues raised by the organisation were either unanswered by the agency conducting EIA or were snubbed by the chairman.

For instance, base line information on Bhima river, the flora and fauna in the region was not found in the EIA as the consultant had relied on secondary data. The apprehensions and concerns raised over the disposal of huge quantity of fly ash were not cleared. The effect on the Ferozabad remains listed by the Archeological department was also sidetracked, and so was the question on the impact of drawing large quantities of waters from the Googal Barrage on other users.

Every time an environmental issue was raised, the chairman snubbed the speakers asking them to give their replies in writing.

However, farmers and others who had nothing to say on the subject matter of the public hearing, but praised the officers, the State government and the chief minister for higher compensation were allowed to speak freely.

The organisation has urged the Union ministry to ignore the proceedings of the hearing and advise the authorities to carry out the EIA again by collecting primary data involving institutions like Indian Institute of Science and Gulbarga University and order for a fresh hearing on environmental issues.

Deepak Gala said they were awaiting response from the ministry before taking the matter further.

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