Wednesday, 25 July 2012

25 July 2012, Letter to PM on Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to Gangaji


Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister of India
& Chairman of
The National River Ganga Basin Authority,
Prime Minister’s Office,
7, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110001

Smt Jayanti Natrajan
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (IC),
Member Secretary, NGRBA,
New Delhi

    1. C. To all members of NRGBA

Ref.: 15 June Office Memorandum regarding Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to Gangaji

Respected Sir,
We came to know that on 15 June 2012 Ministry of Environment and Forest issued an office memorandum for the "Constitution of an Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to river Ganga" by using the power given in the NGRBA Notification dated 20th February, 2009.

Memorandum says that "It was recommended in the NGRBA 3rd meeting to constitute a multidisciplinary group to look at the various options with regard to conservation, irrigation use and running of the Hydroelectric projects to ensure uninterrupted flow of river Ganga".

15th June OM also narrated the 3 objectives and 15 members including 3 expert members from NGRBA.
It seems that the whole exercise of making a committee is again an eye wash, related to the national river Ganga’s environmental and ecological health. It is also against the permanent development of the area of origin of Gangaji as well as the Himalayan range. We are giving some point wise objections for this committee.
  • This Office Memorandum was not publicized anywhere by any of the member ministry in this committee including the Ministry of Environment and forest till today.
  • Inclusion of members in the committee is also a violation of the spirit of democracy. The selection of Ministry members was not done keeping in mind any criteria of expertise in environment or social-economic back ground.
  • Inclusion of expert member from NRGBA appears to be a random selection. There is no valid reason or criteria for selecting these three people.
  • The TOR is also not very definite and precise. There is no stay on ongoing projects.
  • What about the HEPs who did not get Environment and Forest clearances? For example, the HEP on the River Pinder. This is still the only free flowing tributary of Gangaji.
  • Only three months were sanctioned for doing the study (of which already half the time has passed). It was also sanctioned to people who know nothing about this vast issue and do not have much time to complete this in the right way. It is incomprehensible.
You have shown much concern towards Gangaji but making this kind of committee shows the lack of intention to save Gangaji from Gangetic Hydroelectric Projects and free flowing pollution.

It seems that the whole process of making the committee is adhoc and impulsive, without much planning and transparency. This step does not take into consideration all the issues and concerns raisied around this important river, Gangaji.
Thus we demand you:-

  • Spare Gangaji from the devastation that will be caused by under construction and planned Hydro Electric Projects.
  • To ensure this, repeal the Environment and Forest clearances of all Hydro Electric projects on the 'Bhagirathi Ganga' and 'Vishnupadi Alaknanda Ganga,' as well as on all their tributaries.
  • Conduct a comprehensive credible and independent study on the impacts of HEPs and the ways in which we can protect Gangaji.
  • The terms and conditions of conducting this Study should be made public. Peoples' organizations, independent environmentalists and social activists should be the part of the report making process.
  • The recent "Study on Assessment of Cumulative Impact of Hydropower Projects in Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Basins up to Dev Prayag" done by the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee is incorrect and should be abandoned immediately.
  • Stop all construction of HEPs on Gangaji till aforementioned study is completed.
  • 130 km of the Bhagirathi ganga was scheduled to be declares an Ecosenstive Zone. This should not be delayed.

We hope you will respond to these concerns immediately.

Sincerely yours,

Vimal Bhai (convener), Puran Singh Rana, Rajendra Singh Negi, Narendra Pokhriyal

Monday, 16 July 2012

Press Note: 16-07-2012

Resignation of Judicial members from NGT makes Supreme Court unhappy with Central Govt. 

Case in Supreme Court of India:-Union of India Vs. Vimal Bhai & others
Advocates Sanjay Parikh, Ritwick Dutta, Rahul Choudhary, Anitha Shenoy are appearing before the Supreme Court.

The matter of Union of India Vs. Vimal Bhai & ORS. on 13/05/2012 was heard by Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.S. Singvi and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya.

After hearing councel of the respondents, Shri Sanjay parikh and Additional soliciter Gernel of GOI. Court gave the order "We have perused additional affidavit dated 09.07.2012  filed  by respondent No.1 and additional affidavit filed today by Shri  Surjit  Singh, Joint  Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi.  We are extremely unhappy to note that two  Judicial  Members  of the National Green Tribunal - Hon'ble Shri Justice  C.V.Ramulu  and  Hon'ble Shri Justice Amit Talukdar have tendered resignation.  Shri  Sanjay  Parikh, learned counsel for respondent No.1  gave  out  that  the  Judicial  Members resigned  because  of  the  non-availability  of  functional  facility   and residential accommodation.

                         Learned  Solicitor  General  and  learned  Additional  Solicitor General assured that they will immediately  take  up  the  matter  with  the concerned authorities of the Government and make a statement on the date  to be fixed by  the  Court  on  the  issue  of  making  available  the  housing  accommodation to the Judicial Members of the National Green Tribunal.

            In view of the statement made by the learned  Solicitor  General and the Additional Solicitor General, we deem it proper to  request  Hon'ble Shri Justice C.V.Ramulu and Hon'ble Shri Justice Amit Talukdar not to  press for acceptance of  their  resignation  for  a  period  of  one  month.   The concerned authority  in  the  Central  Government  shall  not  accept  their resignation till one week after the next date of hearing, which is fixed  as 13.08.2012."

It is important to say that while GOI has accommodation for the Secretary,MoEF on the first day of his joining, they do not have proper place for the Honb'le Judges of the NGT.

In our additional afidavit we says that "It is pertinent to point out that the earlier the Hon’ble Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal (Hon’ble Justice L.S Panta) had resigned followed by the resignation of an Expert Member (Vijai Sharma). The deliberate delay in issuing the appointment letter to Hon’ble Justice R.V Ravendran  despite his name being recommended by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Supreme  Court only reveals that the union of India is not keen to ensure a fully functional Green Tribunal. The Respondent has reasons to believe that the resignation have been due to lack of basic facilities including residential accommodation being provided to the Judicial and technical members of the National Green Tribunal. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that the most important environmental court of India set up through an Act of Parliament is being rendered non functional due to lack of residential accommodation being provided to the members. Since the last one year the members of the NGT have been forced to stay in Government guest houses/ State Bhawans. This has adversely affected the dignity of office as well as effective judicial functioning.  The act of the Central Government specially the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Ministry of Urban Development is aimed purely in ensuring that the National Green Tribunal is rendered non functional in the similar manner in which the National Environment Appellate Authority was made non functional.  The prime reason is the due to the fact that the National Green Tribunal has been passing decisions which have not been favorable to the Central Government and the central Government is now being made more accountable for its decision concerning the environment and natural resources.

The continuing lack of basic facilities which includes residential accommodation, proper and dedicated staff and court premises is adversely affecting the administration of justice, the dignity of the Court and also shows that the government is not serious about environmental issues.