NEW DELHI: An expert panel of the environment ministry has recommended that it should not entertain any plea from civil action groups during project appraisal in the ministry as many such groups have an anti-development attitude so that the projects are kept on hold or delayed.
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects in its meeting observed that few days before the meeting, Chairman and members receive emails from some civil action groups and individuals which try to highlight some lacuna in a particular project that is likely to come before the EAC.
This means that civil society groups representations will not be heard in EAC meetings and it will be limited to public consultations, which sometimes has been found to be flawed and tampered.
The committee said that the stage of appraisal starts only after the stage of public consultations has been completed and once a project comes before the EAC, it has crossed the stage of public consultations, and the EAC should not go back in time, and should not reopen it, by entertaining unsubstantiated representations received from the people.
“The EAC should not take any cognizance of such representations received from the any civil action group during final appraisal. Many such kind of representations have an anti-development attitude so that the projects are kept on hold or delayed. This has financial implications to the developers in particular and to the nation in general,” it added
EAC felt that if it continues to entertain representations from people, it not only amounts to EAC extending the public consultations indefinitely, but it also amounts to EAC conducting the consultations by e-mail and post.
“This is clearly beyond the scope and TORs of the EAC. It was also felt that many of the objections raised are repetitive and these may have been addressed in the past,” said the committee.
However, it said that an exception can be made to this, when a representation contains some new point, which has not been raised earlier, and which is so important that it may have grave consequences.
“In case of any clarification sought regarding action taken on the representation through RTI, etc., then the reply may be that action has been taken in accordance with the decisions of the EAC for River Valley and HEP on 30.12.2016,” according to the minutes of the meeting.