Loopholes aplenty

  • 14/10/2000

The executive summary is invariably not readily available at the prescribed locations as in the case of the proposed barge-mounted power plant at Bengre, Dakshin Kannada. Even if a copy is available, the quality of information is sketchy. The stakeholders cannot assess the likely impact of the project.

In search of a detailed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), public hearing gets adjourned resulting in avoidable loss of time and money.

Notifications or notices of the public hearing are published along with the commercial advertisements and tender notices and do not catch the attention of ordinary citizens. Even the 30-day notice period is not given in many cases. In the case of Bengre plant, two different timings were mentioned in two different newspapers.

Most of the time the venue is at the district headquarters but, in many cases, district headquarters is very from the project area and it is very difficult for the affected citizens to attend the hearing.

The public hearing panel does not take part in the proceedings. They can only record what is going on. "In other words, they only act as postmen between the people and the authorities that give the clearances,' says Yogesh Bhatt, a member of the legislative assembly from Mangalore. "I can't even resign. If I do, people will say I have nexus with project proponents, and if I stay on, I am not serving any purpose,' says Manohar Prasad, a member of the Dakshin Kannada public hearing committee. Even the pollution control board and state department of environment seem to have no role to play at all.

The participants/concerned groups do not receive any feedback on the proceedings. Even the members of the panel are also not aware of the minutes of the proceedings, as they are not shown the draft of the document which is prepared by the member secretary (state pollution control board) and the chairperson of the panel (deputy commissioner).

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