Environment clearance process a farce: Goa PAC

October 6th, 2011 - 6:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 6 (IANS) Environment clearance (EC) certificates issued to mining projects by the union ministry of environment and forests are nothing short of a farce, the Goa assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has observed.

Scant regard was paid to water bodies, heritage and archaeological sites, schools and tribal areas, while granting of the farcical ECs to mining projects, said the report, which pegs Goa’s illegal mining scam at approximately Rs.3,500 crore in the last financial year.

“The EC certificates that are issued by the MoEF are issued without proper documentation and verification. In fact it appears that issuance of EC certificates by the MoEF has become an additional farce that is being carried out to display compliance with the directions of the apex court without any serious examination of the ground,” it said.

The report was submitted by the PAC chairman and Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar to the speaker Wednesday but has yet to be tabled in the house.

The PAC has further observed that EC certificates “became routine to such an extent that more than 150 EC certificates were granted in four talukas (sub-districts) during four years”.

“The impact on agriculture, education, water supply, (have made) conditions for decent survival is very serious. All people in these areas (affected areas in the four sub districts of Sanguem, Curchorem, Quepem, Sattari) have suffered an irreversible damage to their health, agriculture, education of children and social life,” the report says, blaming the environment ministry for its casual attitude.

The PAC report also critiqued the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies conducted by the mining companies to obtain the ECs as “full of incorrect data”, especially with respect to tribal habitats, location of schools and agricultural fields, water bodies and places of archaeological interest.

“Water bodies, dams and the distance of these water bodies are not properly indicated. In fact there are a number of cases of mines operational in close vicinity of the Selaulim dam (a facility which provides water to nearly half of Goa 1.4 million population)…

Heritage and archaeological sites are not listed in the EIA,” the report states.

Further critiquing the role of the state forest department, the report calls the role of the department headed by Principal Chief Conservator of forests (PCCF) Shashi Kumar as dubious.

“The role of the forest department of the government of Goa is also very dubious and against the cardinal principle of protection of forests. Files for diversion of forest land were moved and cleared in shortest of time,” the report states.

Indicating political interference from the “highest level of government”, the report also criticises the forest department for not acting “inspite of knowledge of violation of terms of EC certificates in respect of Forest Conservation Act (FCA) and Wildlife Protection Act (WPA)”.

Goa has exported nearly 54 million tons of iron ore in the last fiscal, out of which nearly 7 million tons is allegedly extracted illegally.

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