CHENNAI: Close on the heels of a controversy surrounding Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd’s feasibility report, a blooper involving Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) seems to have emerged.
In a major goof-up, the ministry has issued terms of reference (ToR) for conducting an environment impact assessment (EIA) study for the 265-km Chennai-Bengaluru Expressway, mistaking it for the 277-km Chennai-Salem greenfield highway project.
Raghu Kumar Kodali, director/scientist F, MoEF&CC (Impact Assessment Division), wrote a letter on June 8 to office of Project Director of National Highways Authority of India in Guindy Industrial Estate, referring to proposal submitted seeking ToR for access-controlled eight-lane Chennai-Salem greenfield project.
The letter, a copy of which is accessed by Express, says the proposal was considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in its 189th meeting held on May 7. It takes through the details of the project presented by Feedback Infra during the EAC meet like existing routes between Chennai and Salem, forest cover likely to be affected etc., after which the letter talks on the Bengaluru-Chennai expressway project.
“Based on the deliberations in the meeting and information provided by the proponent in support of the project, the EAC, in its 189th meeting on May 7, recommended grant of ToR.
As per the recommendation of the EAC, the the MoEF&CC hereby accords ToR for construction of 8-lane Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway Phase-I from Bengaluru at km 0.000 and ends at km 71.000 near Village N.G. Hulkur, Taluk Bangarpet, District Kolar (Karnataka) (Length of 73.050 including spur alignment of 2.05 km), by M/s National Highways Authority of India and for preparation of EIA/EMP report with public consultations subject to compliance of all conditions as notified in the standard ToR applicable for highways and specific conditions”, the document reads.
54 aspects were asked to be studied and incorporated into the EIA. A detailed draft EIA and Environment Management Plan were asked to be prepared and submitted to State Pollution Control Board for public hearing.
The letter specifically says, “Public hearing shall be conducted based on the ToR letter issued by the Ministry and not on the basis of the minutes of the meeting available on the website.”
It is unclear whether the ToR issued was for the Bengaluru-Chennai expressway or for the Chennai-Salem greenfield highway. Project Director of the Chennai-Salem project PT Mohan was not available for comments.