GUWAHATI, Aug 29 - Environmentalists here allege that the Union Government and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) have violated Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 and the March 14, 2013 National Green Tribunal (NGT) order in Save Mon Region Federation case in matters related to the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP).
The NGT on July 31, 2019 dismissed two separate applications by Tularam Gogoi and Aabhijeet Sarma respectively, challenging the constitution of a three-member committee set-up by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) in pursuant to the earlier NGT judgement passed on October 16, 2017. The NGT dismissed the petitioners’ contention that the three-member committee was biased and in favour of the project proponents.
As per its October 16, 2017 judgement, the NGT had contended that the report of the three-member committee should be placed for fresh appraisal under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects. After the Appraisal by the EAC, the competent authority, that is – the MOEFCC, was to take a final decision, which would as per the EIA notification, be an environmental clearance granted after appraisal by the EAC.
While the matter regarding the constitution of the three-member committee was sub-judiced, the MoEFCC went ahead and placed the report of the expert committee before the EAC on April 23, 2019. However, the report of the three-member committee was kept secret and neither did the minutes of the EAC indicate what the recommendations were.
As per the paragraph 16 of the NGT order dated July 31, 2019, it is apparent that the MoEFCC had granted environmental clearance to NHPC on June 13, 2019.
But the copy of the June 13, 2019 full environmental clearance has still not been placed in the public domain as of August 28, 2019.
The environmentalists said that the NGT in its March 14, 2013 in Save Mon Region Federation and Another Vs Union of India and Others order had directed, among others, –
1. The MoEF shall, within seven days from the date of passing of the order of Environment Clearance, upload it on its website. It shall be the duty of the MoEF to ensure that immediately upon its uploading the same should be made accessible and can be downloaded without any delay or impediment. It would remain so uploaded on the website for a period of at least 90 days…....
4. The Project Proponent in terms of Regulation 10(i) (a) shall publish the factum of environmental clearance granted to the project along with environmental conditions and safeguards, at its own costs. Such publication shall be effected in two local newspapers of the district or State where the project is located.
5. In addition thereto, the Project Proponent shall display on its website permanently, the factum, environmental conditions and safeguards of environmental clearance. This shall be done in the name of the company, unit or industry which is the Project Proponent and not in the name of its parent or subsidiary company or sister concern.
6. The Project Proponent shall also submit the copies of the Environmental Clearance to the Heads of the local bodies, panchayats and municipal bodies of that district…”