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Environment ministry creates a record in forestland diversion

Date:Sep 22, 2011

A new study by Centre for Science and Environment slams system of green clearances

Bad for people, bad for environment
Claims by the government and industry that environmental regulations are throttling India's economic growth are belied by the latest study by Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Growth at what cost?
The diversion of forestland for development projects in the past five years is unprecedented. What would be the cumulative impact of these projects on the environment?
What you did not know about forestland diversions
For the past five years, every year forestland equal to Tadoba, Sahyadri or Panna tiger reserve has been diverted to other uses, and only a small fraction of it was for community services like village schools, dispensaries and drinking water projects
Coal mining’s dirty dossier
All coal mining areas have very high levels of pollution and most coal mining companies have very poor environment management record. In the past five years, environment ministry has granted environmental clearance to double the coal production capacity in the country
The iron ore rush
The iron ore capacity granted environmental clearance during the 11th five-year plan period (till August, 2011)—162 MTPA—is 75 per cent of the existing capacity of iron ore mining in the country. Most of this will be for exports
Thermal power clearances: an impediment to growth?
The environmental clearance granted to thermal power plants in the past five years is about two and a half times the capacity of thermal power plants the country has installed in 60 years after independence
Iron and Steel: clearances outpace requirement
The environment ministry has already granted clearance to more than the existing capacity of sponge iron and steel production in the country during the 11th five year plan period
Cement exceeds target
With the clearances granted till August 2011, the combined capacity will be 369 MTPA, 1.6 times the target set for the 11th five year plan. The land requirement for the cement plants stands at 16,000 hectare and the water requirement is 89 million m3 per year


Thanks for sending the link. This data is great and an excellent source of information for us to cite. We are planning a press statement tomorrow to refer to this, the FAC non official members' letter, and - hopefully - a letter from the Tribal Ministry that should have been issued this week to MoEF, and use all to point out that the system is extraordinarily flawed and anti-democratic. It's useful for us that it's all come out in the same week actually.

Out of curiosity - and I am sure you expected me to ask this question, but I am going to do so anyway :) - why did you all choose not to mention either the requirement for people's consent during diversion of
forest land, or the question of the recognition of forest rights? Or did I just miss it? Perhaps it is in the press conference materials?

Assuming that I didn't miss it, I was curious as it is a significant aspect of the clearance process, being the only space that people actually have for any meaningful control over the process (as well as
the single biggest change in forest land regulation since the FCA itself). It is probably also the aspect that is most violated.

22 September 2011
Posted by
Shanker Gopalakrishna

Dear Shanker
Thank you for your comment and appreciation. This is excellent data for us as well and it's a shame that MoEF doesn't compile it and even if it does, its not in public domain.
In the past few months, a general atmosphere has been created in the country which essentially says that environment and forest clearances are a hinderance to development. The idea behind this study was to check (and quantify) the kind of truth (or not) there is in this perception. The data is of course shocking where we saw that in most sectors MoEF has already granted clearance to capacity way more than the target set even for the next five year plan (12th). Evidently the perception is skewed.
We do appreciate the point that you have brought out about FRA violations but the scope of the study was slightely different. I am sure we will come up with more of these kind of studies in future and FRA is something we will track closely.

23 September 2011

Posted by
Sugandh Juneja

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