Featured Articles

Latest Post

Pune Municipal Waste Situation

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, November 30, 2008 | 10:22 PM

Waste Matters and Janwani co-hosted a seminar on “Waste to Energy: Is incineration of city garbage a good idea?” on 29th November wherein Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) official outlined the current status of waste management in the city.

I was invited to witness the waste pickers struggle for health insurance cover provided by the Pune Municipal Corporation, to undertake a field visit to the city’s landfill and to give a talk on the two RDF based waste to energy projects that is coming up in the city. Laxmi Narayan from Waste Matters, a city-based environmental organization which is associated with the Kagad, Kaach, Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a trade union of waste pickers facilitated the my engagements along with Poornima Chikarmane.

I attended the peaceful protest organized by KKPKP on November 28, 2008 that was demanding that health insurance claimants should get their due as early as possible, and the New India Assurance (NIA) to re-open all the claims summarily rejected since 2007.

Wastepickers are self-employed workers, who earn their livelihoods from salvaging recyclable paper, plastic, metal and grass scrap from garbage. They have their own occupational hazards and it was for them that the KKPKP was made the holder of the Jan Arogya Policy for around 5,000 wastepickers since January 2003. The premium for the policy is paid by the PMC, from its annual Solid Waste Management budget.

PMC is the only municipal body in the country which has been proactive about protecting its wastepickers. It may be noted that the Jan Arogya Policy is a social insurance scheme, which gives cheap medical insurance to the poorer section of the society.

The sum insured per person is restricted to Rs 5,000 but, since 2007, more than 50 per cent of such claims by ragpickers have been rejected due to delayed submission'. "We, along with PMC, will take the matter ahead and ask the NIA to speed up the process and grant the claims for pending cases.

Baba Adhav, a legendry activist who was present at the rally, urged Sanjiv Sood, NIA divisional manager, to look into the matter and clear the pending cases. The KKPKP has vowed to continue with its demands for the wastepickers, till justice comes about.

On the morning of November 29, four member team comprising of myself, Ranjit Gadgil, Sameer, one PMC official and a volunteer of KKPKP visited the Urali Devachi dumping ground to take stock of the situation wherein villagers are protesting against the dumping of waste. Pune city dumps more than 1,000 tonnes of garbage each day in the village of Urali-Devachi. We witnessed and heard the narratives about the leachates contamination, unfit and unsafe water. The air was thick with smoke from burning garbage. The residents of the village have taken the PMC to the High Court for the violation of relevant environmental rules.

I witnessed two plants of SELCO company and Hanjer Biotech Energies at the landfill site. The former was under construction and the placard on the gate of the latter read “the company is closed”.

I was informed that segregation of solid waste in Urali-Devachi has started. PMC has already received a grant of Rs 24 crore from the Union government for ensuring the organic wastes are treated.

In the evening of November 29, there was Panel Discussion wherein Sanskriti Menon of Centre for Environment Education introduced us to the audience.

I spoke on “Environmental, economic, political implications of Waste to Energy (WtE) projects”. I drew upon the policy context of the proposed plants and how they are following the public health disaster path that has been undertaken by the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in the name of Carbon Trade unmindful of Persistent Organic Pollutants. I referred to the upcoming Global Day of Action.

Ashok Shreenivas of Prayas, a voluntary organisation spoke about “Energy & Efficiency Implications of WtE”.

Another Panelist, Sanjeev Wawre, Ghole road ward medical officer and also a part of the civic body's solid waste management said, "All ward officers have been asked to look for land, measuring 2,000 to 5,000 sq.ft for setting up bio-methanisation or OWC plants. Already, a bio-methanisation plant is under construction at the Ghole road ward office. The plant will cost Rs 30 lakh and is expected to process five metric tonne garbage daily”. He added that the plants at ward office levels will be set up according to the type, quality and quantity of garbage collected. "These ward-level plants are expected to process about 2 to 5 metric tonne garbage daily. In total, the civic body expects to utilise Rs 10 crore for setting up these 14 plants". Wawre said the Mundhwa plant, where engineers are working to set up a bio-methanisation plant, is expected to process 75 to 100 metric tonne garbage daily. "The city generates 1,200 to 1,300 metric tonne waste, of which 51 to 55 per cent is dry waste. Decentralisation of garbage collection and processing would reduce the burden on the Urali Devachi dumping ground."

Prior to the panel discussion, I had an hour long conversation with Wawre wherein he revealed that the central government’s fiscal measures and incentives does not leave much room for the Municipal Corporation to act in autonomous manner. I told him that both the waste to energy plants of SELCO company and Hanjer Biotech Energies are RDF plants and would ruin the waste management and public health of the city beyond repair. SECLO’s plant in Andhra Pradesh has caused lot of environmental health problems and Hanjer’s project in Agra has been purposefully stopped.

There were few experts from Sweden who narrated how waste incineration based energy generation amid stringent pollution control measures has benefited their country. I responded saying that while European Union in general is opposed to waste incineration policy, it is possible that some corporations have prevailed upon the Swedish government to undertake the incineration path.

Both myself and energy expert Ashok Sreenivas warned against the incineration of garbage. "The refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a failed technology and Pune should not go for it. RDF plants are not viable. "The city's RDF potential is 10 MW while the shortage of power faced by the city is about 100 MW. Besides, there are other problems of pollution and large amount of subsidies required for setting up these projects.

Ranjit Gadgil spoke about the irony of decentralization and centralization schemes working simultaneously in the city with regard to waste management.

I referred to the current practice of PMC dumping Pune garbage at the Urali garbage. A massive two lakh metric tonnes of rubbish has accumulated at the site spreading over 63 acres. The Urali site is full to its capacity, and so far, the PMC had no alternatives but to make continuous improvements here. To shift the burden from the Urali site, the municipal corporation has been in a process of identify four different depot locations around the city. But oppositions by local residents at these sites have marred the efforts. Now the PMC has adopted a carrot and stick policy. Villagers are being cajoled and lured by offering them piped water, medical facility etc and police force is being used to ensure ongoing dumping of waste.

Adjoining urban local bodies Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation generates 440 MT of municipal waste per day and Pune Cantonment Board generates 30 MT of municipal waste per day. Both the places found mention in our deliberations.

Gopal Krishna

Bangladesh High Court stays ship breaking M.T. Enterprise

Note: It would be interesting to see the report by the Department of Environment, Bangladesh. It appears that everything depends on this report. The case seems to be following the path opf Blue Lady litigation. The courts in India and Bangladesh have a habit of relying on even unreliable reports submitted by the environment departnments. Is it possible to submit an independent report so that it presents a contrast in the event of the environment Dept. attempting to greenwash the industry?
High Court stays ship breaking M.T. Enterprise
After hearing three experts on the potential hazards of unregulated breaking of M.T. Enterprise that contains extremely dangerous substances like Asbestos, a Division Bench of the High Court Division comprising Mr. Justice Md. Iman Ali and Mr. Justice Md. Ashfaqul Islam, has again restrained the imported from continuing with any work with regard to the ship till 15 December, 2008. The order came upon hearing of a Writ Petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) challenging the NoC given the Department of Shipping to the import of the ship although the said department refused to give NoC to two other Greenpeace listed ships namely S.S. Norway and M. T. Enterprise.

During the hearing the court felt the necessity of hearing experts on hazards in ship breaking. Upon direction from the court, three experts namely Dr. Md. Aftab Uddin from the Department of Bio-Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. Md. Musharraf Ashraf from the Department of Shipping and Engineer Iftekhar Enayetullah from the Waste Concern appraised the Court in its chamber on various issues relating ship breaking. They experts gave their opinion on effects of dealing with metals contained in the ship that is brought for breaking. There was a consensus of opinion of 3 experts that any amount of hazardous material to which the experts are exposed if no protection is accorded and the spillage of hazardous materials into the soil and in the air can have immediate and long term effects. It was also admitted that there was no supervision from any ministry on the breaking operation and no clearance was obtained from the Department of Environment.

In the above circumstances, the Court issued a rule upon the Department of Environment to show cause as to why they shall not be directed as to the number of ship breaking yards and projects are being operated within the territory of Bangladesh without any clearance from the DoE and as to why they shall not be directed to take measures against those who are operating without such clearance.

The Department of Environment has also been directed to submit a report by 14 December, 2008 as to whether not the ship breaking that has taken place had any precautionary measures in regard to the safety of the person working on the ship and with regard to any facility bearing in mind the responsibility of the department to protect the environment.

Pending hearing of the rule, the Court has further restrained the importer of the ship M/S Madina Enterprise from undertaking any further work with regard to the ship till 15 December, 2008 when the matter shall be taken up for further order.

In this writ petition, two separate benches of the High Court division earlier granted stay and injunction on two occasions that were subsequently vacated by the Chamber judge of the Appellate Division and then the Appellate Division itself. Then the matter was taken up for hearing and on hearing both the parties and their experts this order of injunction has been given.

Fazilka implements 'Car-free city' concept Fazilka, a small township near India Pakistan border made history yest

Note: Fazilka is a city and a municipal council in Firozpur district in the state of Punjab, India.

Fazilka, a small township near India Pakistan border has made history. Fazilka become the first to implement another unique concept of "Car free city" in the region. Yesterday, city centre i.e. market area nearby clock tower has been declared "Car Free Zone". No motorised four vehicles and heavy vehicles will be allowed to move in this zone for 12 hours during day time. Special emphasis through traffic calming devices and permanent barriers at few locations has been installed to make this zone as pedestrian and cycle friendly.

Credit for the successful implementation of this concept goes to Mr. Anil Sethi, newly elected President of Municipal Council Fazilka. Fazilka city and its residents are already doing many activities to promote Non-motorised vehicle (NMV) for transport within the city. 21st century is governed with the agenda to pacify the affect of Global Warming and I am sure Fazilka town is going to be the flag bearer for the cause of suppressing effect of Global Warming through energy conservation and transportation. 77-80% of the air pollution is contributed by transportation sector alone.

Last year, through one week long "Fazilka Heritage Festival" this experiment as a part of case study was conducted by Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF) by keeping same city central zone as car free zone. Study revealed that, this experiment had not just improved the quality of social life but also improved the law and order, environment through less air pollution emitted, economy and road safety of the residents. As a part of study and analysis random sampling was done under randomized controlled conditions.

Communities that are NMV-friendly are seen as places with a high quality of life in the society. NMV-friendly communities are places where people feel safe and comfortable riding their cycles and walking for fun, fitness, and transportation. Encouraging NMV is a simple way towards improving public health. With more people joining NMV, communities experience reduced traffic demands, improved air quality and greater physical fitness. In addition, NMV-friendly towns are often seen as most safe place to live. "The aim to create car free zone and also to promote NMV mode of transport within city to build bridges between the prosperous sections of society in the city and the less well-off", said Anil Sethi. He is already taking strong action against the decision of building Road over bridge within city limits. No European and American city has built flyover within their city from last 15-20 years.

Eco-cab (Dial-a Rickshaw) is another successfully implemented concept, in which cycle Rickshaw has been introduced as Public Transport System using latest Intelligent Transport tools. For the next year, GWAF is all set to send the nomination of Fazilka Mayor for the award of "Worlds Best Mayor", as people of Fazilka have already done that what famous mayors like Enrique Peñalosa, mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Elmar Ledergerber, Zurich, Switzerland and much appreciated Lee Myung-bak, Seoul mayor, current President who initiated the project to remove the elevated highway/flyovers and restore the Cheonggyecheon water stream under urban renewal and beautification have done.

November 29,2008
NewsBlaze

LIp-service to Ganga & Yamuna

Saving the Ganga

Manmohan Singh’s move to declare the Ganga as the country’s first national river, for direct management by a river basin authority that he will head, is well-intended but little more than a re-enactment of what Rajiv Gandhi had done in 1984. The chief difference between the two is that while Mr Gandhi took the initiative at the beginning of his term as Prime Minister, giving himself ample time to show results (which, sadly, remained elusive), Dr Singh is doing so towards the end of his term—with hardly any time left for worthwhile action, let alone results. The new avatar of the Ganga River Basin Authority is mooted to be a fully empowered body for planning, implementing and monitoring all activities that impact the Ganga along its entire stretch of 2,510 km, form the mountains of Uttarakhand to the Bay of Bengal. The objectives are to save this vital and iconic rival from dying, and restoring the purity of its water, which has degraded and become unusable for drinking, and even for bathing or washing clothes.

The timing of the move has bred some unfortunate misgivings, for it is being viewed in political quarters as a pre-poll gimmick to gain voter sympathies in the Hindi heartland, through which the river flows. Questions are being asked as to why the Centre continues to delay acceding to the long-pending demand for constituting a similar body for the Brahmaputra. There is also the danger of fanning Centre-state and inter-state river water conflicts, as regulating water flows is a state subject.

These misgivings may be unfounded, and little more than political conspiracy-theorising in the run-up to general elections. The real issue is whether this initiative, too, will meet the fate of the Ganga Action Plan of a quarter-century ago. That the Rs 1,500 crore spent on that project virtually went down the drain has been confirmed by reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), as well as of the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court to monitor progress.

Even the initiatives taken by the apex court have achieved little, because the edicts that it has issued for closing down the tanneries around the river and for the treatment of all the sewage and industrial waste being released into it, have been futile exercises. Nearly a billion litres of untreated sewage continues to pour into the river along a course dotted with 100 towns and cities, small and big.

Less than half of the major effluent-discharging industries are reckoned to have set up treatment plants, and a sizable number out of these either do not function or are sub-standard installations. The net result, as corroborated by the Central Pollution Control Board, is that the quality of Ganga water is worse now than it was in 1984. What heightens the danger to the survival of this once mighty and sparklingly clean river is the revelation that the Gangotri glacier, which is the river’s source, has been shrinking by over 18 metres a year. This makes it imperative that decisive action is taken to restore the health of this vital river. If the Prime Minister’s move succeeds in doing so, it will indeed be a boon for the country.

Editorial
Business Standard

Jail for Delhi Jal Board ex-CEO for polluting Yamuna

New Delhi: The Yamuna will finally get cleaner. In a stunning instance of judicial activism, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered a two-week
jail term for former DJB CEO Arun Mathur and two other top officials of the Board for their failure to prevent sewage from flowing into the Yamuna despite assuring the court two years ago that they would take steps to stem the sewage flow into the river.

The jail order has been suspended for three months. This breather is for the Board to get its act together and "stop entire flow of sewage into storm water drain," said Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra. At present, sewage is seeping into a 4-km storm water drain along Greater Kailash, Masjid Moth, EPR Colony and Chirag Enclave in south Delhi.

Now that this jail term is hanging over the heads of the officers, there is a very good chance that the problem that didn't get fixed for two years, will get DJB's priority attention. The three officers have also been fined Rs 20,000 each, to be deducted from their salary immediately. A fourth officer, ex-chief engineer B M Dhaul escaped HC's wrath as he has retired.

A visibly angry Justice Dhingra said, "It is only in this country that citizens have to knock at the doors of court in order to get reliefs of the kind sought here. It only shows with what contempt normal citizens of this country are dealt with by authorities and essential facilities like sewage lines are not maintained by DJB despite repeated complaints of the citizen." He also lashed out at DJB for "deep-rooted corruption in the department."

The extraordinary step to imprison then CEO Mathur, chief engineer (Drainage) R K Jain and executive engineer P Pant came on a contempt petition filed by the RWA of Greater Kailash S Block. It informed the court that despite assuring the court as far back as 2006, DJB has failed to stop flow of sewer in their colony's storm water drain which flowed untreated into the Yamuna.

Justice Dhingra bridled at what he viewed as DJB's attempts to wriggle out of this spot. The agency claimed it had carried out repairs but this was a case of re-occurrence of flow of sewage in the storm water drain due to fresh settlement.

Lawyers for DJB told court that fresh tenders had already been invited to mend sewer lines.

But the court said, "Excuses are always available for those who don't wish to work." It also trashed DJB's defence that the sewer lines of GK, Masjid Moth and Chirag Enclave were more than 35 years old and so susceptible to collapse. "Main trunk sewer lines are meant to last not decades but centuries since they are life lines of cities and with them is connected the entire sewage system," the judge said.

He added: "If a department meant to look after sewer lines is unable to stop flow of sewage and sullage into storm water and Yamuna river, questions can be asked about the utility of such a department. repeated failure of sewer system shows the quality of work being done by DJB...If two and a half years isn't enough to stop flow of sewage, what period of time is needed by DJB nobody knows."

Times View

The Delhi High Court must be congratulated for its no-nonsense attitude. TOI has always maintained that those in public office must be held accountable and the HC's order is a landmark step in that direction. There should be zero tolerance for this kind of callous negligence as it shows total disregard for taxpayers' money with which our utilities are run and with which these officers are paid their salaries. Hopefully, "powerful" people will now realise that they are in fact servants of the public.

26 Nov 2008
Abhinav Garg


Delhi dumps 70% pollutants in Yamuna, says CPCB study

New Delhi, November 26 : There is a reason why the High Court is slapping the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) with contempt of court — and it’s a problem Delhiites have been living with.

The latest data on the quality of water in the Yamuna has confirmed the worst: at 70 per cent, Delhi contributes most polluting load to the river.

In 2005, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found that at Wazirabad, the point where Yamuna enters the city, coliform levels (caused by sewage, and severely unhealthy) were at 40,842 parts per 100 ml. Since 2005, the figures have only gone up. This month, the river at Palla, just before it enters the city, had a coliform level of 1,60,000. And compared to the rest of the city, that is a meagre amount.

As per the ‘C’ category the river falls in, coliform levels should be around 5,000 MPN (Most Probable Number, or units) per 100 ml. But the levels of coliform are staggering in the rest of the city, becoming critical at the points where drains meet the river. This month, it was recorded that just downstream of Wazirabad coliform levels are at 2,30,000 MPN per 100 ml. At ITO, the coliform levels are at 7,50,000. And downstream of Okhla, the figure breaks through the roof: after the river meets the polluting Shahadara drain, coliform levels have been found to be at 12,00,000 MPN per 100 ml.

That, the CPCB says, means Delhi contributes 70 percent of pollution load to the Yamuna. Drains, sewage and stormwater are together taking away life from the river. Literally.

The November data also shows that after Najafgarh drain meets the river, Biochemical Oxygen demand (BOD) — oxygen consuming substances sapping away oxygen from the water — are at 42 miligrams per litre. The experts at CPCB say this is 14 times the amount a C-category river is supposed to have — a maximum of 3 mg per litre.

BJP fishes in murky waters, finds poll issue in Court order

The court order has added much colour to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll ammunition. Candidate for chief minister Vijay Kumar Malhotra said: “Sheila Dikshit was the chairman of the DJB. It is clear the agency’s functioning under her has been shady. People have now noticed that.”

Several campaigning leaders, including Narendra Modi, touched upon the court order in their rally speeches. At a meeting in Najafgarh, Modi said: “Congress makes promises and then forgets to keep them. The officers have been punished for that. It is time you punish the Congress.”
The BJP will keep rubbing it in, party sources said. Malhotra added, “The DJB has suffered a revenue loss of more than Rs 2,000 crore. Nearly 16 lakh consumers are slapped with water bills not generated by proper meters. This has led to horrific corruption in the DJB. In addition, defective meters also cost the exchequer Rs 175 crore every year.”

Party MLA Vijay Jolly said, “Shortage of water has been a constant problem in my New Delhi constituency. It now seems whatever we get is also a mix of sewer water.”

Neha Sinha
The Times of India

Himalayan glaciers may disappear by 2035

The glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, a large number of them may disappear by 2035 because of climate change, warn Indian and foreign environmentalists and geologists.

The Himalayas have the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps. That is why, they are called the “Water Towers of Asia.”

The Himalayas lie to the north of the Indian subcontinent and to the south of the central Asian high plateau. They are bound by the Indus on the west slope of Mt Nanga Parbat (near Gilgit), and in the west, by river Jaizhug Qu on the eastern slope of Mt Namjabarwa.

The Geological Survey of India claims that the Himalayan glaciers occupy about 17 per cent of the total mountainous range, while an additional 30 to 40 per cent area has seasonal snow cover.

In the whole of the Himalayan range, independent geologists claim that there are 18,065 small and big glaciers with a total area of 34,659.62 km2 and a total ice volume of 3,734.4796 km3. The major clusters of glaciers are around the 10Himalayan peaks and massifs: Nanga Parbat (Gilgit), the Nanda Devi group in Garhwal, the Dhaulagiri massif, the Everest-Makalu group, the Kanchenjunga, the Kula Kangri area, and Namche Bazaar.

The Indian Himalayan glaciers are broadly divided into three-river basins of the Indus, Ganga and Barahmaputra. The Indus basin has the largest number of glaciers (3,538), followed by the Ganga basin (1,020) and the Barahmaputra (662).

The principal glaciers are: Siachen 72 km; Gangotri 26 km; Zemu 26 km; Milam 19 km and Kedarnath 14.5 km. The Gangotri glacier has retreated by about 850 m.

One may believe it or not but the climate change is real and happening now and it is causing a serious impact on fragile ecosystems like glaciers. Seventy per cent of the world’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers. Glacier melt buffers other ecosystems against climate variability. Very often, it provides the only source of water for humans and the biodiversity during dry seasons.

The Himalayan glaciers feed seven of Asia’s great rivers: the Ganga, Indus, Barahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang Ho. About 70 per cent of glaciers are retreating at a startling rate in the Himalayas due to climate change.

The Glacial melt has started affecting freshwater flows with dramatic adverse effects on the biodiversity, and people and livelihoods, with a possible long-term implication on regional food security.

The WWF’s India, Nepal and China chapters some time back carried out a massive study ‘Glaciers, glacier retreat and its impact’ on freshwater as a major issue, not just in the national context but also at a regional and trans-boundary level.

New data collected by scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University has shown that glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than anywhere else in the world. Together with those on the neighbouring Tibetan mountain plateau, the Himalayan glaciers make up the largest body of ice outside the Polar regions.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)’s scientist, professor Syed Hasnain, in a recent study claimed that “All the glaciers in the middle Himalayas are retreating, and they could disappear from the central and eastern Himalayas by 2035.”

As the chairman of the International Commission for Snow and Ice’s (ICSI) working group on Himalayan Glaciology, Hasnain was then quoted by The New Scientist in the June 5, 1999, issue, in which also he had warned that “most of the glaciers in the Himalayan region will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming”. The article also predicted that freshwater flow in rivers across South Asia would “eventually diminish, resulting in widespread water shortages.”

The Tribune in mid-July carried a special report quoting American environment guru Lester R. Brown, who warned that the way Indian glaciers were melting because of climate change, the Ganga may turn into a ``mausmi nadi’’ before the turn of this century as its origin - the Gangotri glacier - was shrinking at an alarming speed. “Many Himalayan glaciers could melt entirely by 2035,” Brown has also warned.

The giant Gangotri glacier supplies 70 per cent of the Ganga flow during the dry season. A study carried out by the India’s Department of Science and Technology has found the Gangotri glacier shrinking at a pace of 17 m a year due to global warming and climate change. Its mammoth neighbour Pindari glacier is also reportedly melting at a speed of about 9.5 m a year. The Gangotri glacier is the outlet of one of the largest glacier systems in the Himalayas, and the source of the Bhagirathi, one of the major tributaries of the Ganga.

Man Mohan
A Tribune Special

Security Threat from 89 ships in Alang?

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | 10:22 PM


Some 88 'dead ships' have beached at Alang in contravention of Supreme Court orders. The matter came for hearing on 19th November in the court. It is listed for further hearing after three weeks.

The intelligence report mentions that the regulations allow such ships innocent passage through the entire stretch of Indian waters unscrutinized by the security agencies. Besides environmental security, national security also seems to be a casualty.

These ships include the following:

1. VLORA M.V. beached in Alang on 25th-Dec-2007 in the plot no. 84 of
Diamond Industries Ship Breaking Div. Owned by Ajay Jain

2. LEE M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-Nov-2007in the plot no. 84 A of
Lucky Steel Industries owned by Arif Masani

3. SEE HOPE M.V. beached in Alang on 26th-Oct-2007 in the plot no. 88
of Atam Manohar Ship Breakers Pvt. Ltd owned by Munshiram Jain

4. AGIOS ISIDOROS M.V. beached in Alang on 26th-Feb-2008 in the plot
no. 91 of K.P.G. Enterprises owned by Rakesh Bansal

5. BOTSMAN MPSHKOV M.V. beached in Alang on 4th-May-2007 in the plot
no. 1 of Bansal International Ltd.

6. BERGE ARROW M.V. beached in Alang on 5th-May-2007 in the plot no. 1
of Bansal International Ltd.

7. GAS TIGER M.V.beached in Alang on 31st-Dec-2007 in the plot no. 2
of Chaudhary & Chudhary owned by Mukesh Chaudhary

8. CHEM ASTRO M.V.beached in Alang on 26th-Feb-2008 in the plot no. 3
of Kamdar & Associates
owned by Mishrilal Shah.

9. ILINSK M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Dec-2007in the plot no. 7 of
Nagarsheth Ship Breakers
by Praveen Nagarsheth

10. ZINA PORT NOVA M.V.beached in Alang on 27th-Dec-2007in the plot
no. 7 of Nagarsheth Ship Breakers by Praveen Nagarsheth

11. MOZDO M.V. beached in Alang on 25th-Dec-2007in the plot no. 8 of
Ghasiram Gokalchand Shipbreaking Yard owned by Vishnu Gupta

12. VAGA M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 9 of
Shree Ram Steel & Rolling Mill (Unit-II) owned by Mukeshbhai Patel

13. D.HAI M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 9 of
of Shree Ram Steel & Rolling Mill (Unit-II) owned by Mukeshbhai Patel

14. SONS M.V. beached in Alang on 20th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 10 of
Shree Saibaba Ship Breaking Company owned by Pawan Jain.

15. TIM M,V. beached in Alang on 21st-Dec-2007 in the plot no. 11
Gautam Ship Breaking Ind. Ltd. owned by Vinubhai.

16. HAMAD M.V.beached in Alang on 29th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 12 of
Salgavkar Engineers P. Ltd.

17. ZHEN HUA-2 M.V. beached in Alang on 15th-Nov-2007 in the plot no.
13 of Baijnath Melaram
owned by Bhupendra Agrawal (Munnabhai)

18. ALMAHAD M.V. beached in Alang on 14th-June-2007in the plot no. 14
of Hariyana Ship Breakers Ltd. owned by Shantiswaroop Reinwal

19. SEA ANGER M.V..beached in Alang on 6th-Feb-2008 in the plot no. 16
of Bhikamal Chhotelal
owned by Lallabhai Sheth.

20. SEA EXPLORER M.V. beached in Alang on 20th-Jan-2007 in the plot
no. 18 of Mahavir Ship Breakers owned by Mukesh Jain

21. POWER M.V..beached in Alang on 8th-Feb-2008 in the plot no. 19 of
R.L.Kalathia Ship Breaking
P.Ltd. owned by H.L.Kalathia

22. MARIAM-VI M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Nov-2007in the plot no. 20
of Panchavati Ship Breakers owned by Mishrilal
HAJ MAHMOUD M.V. beached in Alang on 11th Nov-2007in the plot no. 20
of Panchavati Ship Breakers owned by Mishrilal

23. HERMES M.V. HAMAD M.V.beached in Alang on 23rd-Jan-2007 in the
plot no. 21 of International Steel Corporation owned by G.M.Meghani

24. AKADEMIK ALESANDERSI DORE beached in Alang on 9th-Nov-2007 in the
plot no. 24 of Alang Auto & Engineering Co. owned by Subodh Choudhary

25. BETA M.V. HERMES M.V. HAMAD M.V.beached in Alang on 23rd-Jan-2007
in the plot no. 24 Alang Auto & Engineering Co. owned by Subodh
Choudhary

26. RYBAKIV ASHKI M.V.HERMES M.V.beached in Alang on 25th Dec. 2007 in
the plot no. 25 of Bansal Ship Breakers owned by Raj Bansal

27. MYS SVOBODNYY M.V.beached in Alang on 25th Dec. 2007 in the plot
no. 25 of Bansal Ship Breakers owned by Raj Bansal

28. GOLDEN GEMINI M. V. beached in Alang on 7th-Feb-2008 in the plot
no. 26 of Apollo Vikas Steel Pvt. Ltd. owned by Vinubhai Patel

29. NEORIVA M.V. beached in Alang on 11-Nov-2006 in the plot no. 32 of
Samudra Alloys P. Ltd.

30. LUCKY M.V. beached in Alang on 5th-Feb-2008 in the plot no. 33 of
Madhav Steel Ship Breaking owned by Jivrajbhai Patel

31. XPRESS ALEXANDER M.V. beached in Alang on 20th-Apr-2007 in the
plot no. 35 of Ganpatrai Jaigopal owned by Vipin Agarwal

32. SEA D/V. beached in Alang on 7th-Aug-2006 in the plot no. 36 of
Shiv Ship Breaking Co. owned by Rameshbhai

33. GOLF M.V.beached in Alang on 6th-Jan-2007 in the plot no. 38 of
Ghaziabad Ship Breakers
owned by Ramesh Choudhary.

34. NANKING M.V. beached in Alang on 25th-Dec-2007in the plot no. 39
of Gupta Steel Ship Breakers owned by Kpoor Bansal

35. WIND M.V. beached in Alang on 9th-Nov-2007 in the plot no. 40 of
Shirdi Steel Traders
owned by Raj Bansal

36. ARBAT D/V. (TOW WIND) beached in Alang on 9th-Nov-2007 in the plot
no. 40 of Shirdi Steel Traders owned by Raj Bansal

37. JTB TUG MAGNACNAM-CC 39201 beached in Alang on 24th-Jan-2008 in
the plot no. 42 of Virendra & Company owned by Bhogibhai Shah

38. MING XI JU M.V. beached in Alang on 20th-Feb-2007 in the plot no.
47 of Marine Lines (ShipBreakers) owned by Kamal Khemka.

39. ALMIS-I M.V. beached in Alang on 19th-Oct-2007 in the plot no. 50
of Husain Sheth Ispat (Ship Breaking)

40. DIAMOND M.V.beached in Alang on 23rd Oct 2007 in the plot no. 50
of Husain Sheth Ispat (Ship Breaking)

41. CASTOR M.V. (EX. BOWHERON) beached in Alang on 3rd-Mar-2007 in the
plot no. 51 of Goyal Traders owned by Ravi Arya

42. P.EXPRESS M.V. beached in Alang on 5th-Jul-2007 in the plot no. 55
& 24 A of HATIM STEEL

43. ROSINIJ M.V. beached in Alang on 22nd-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 54
of Rushil Industries Pvt Ltd.

44. IRAN ADALAT M.V. beached in Alang on 18th-Apr-2007in the plot no.
57 & 24 C of Laxmi Steel Rolling Mills (UNIT-II)

45. ALAMOAJ M.V. beached in Alang on 13th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 58
& 24 D of Malvi Ship Breaking Company owned by Farukh.

46. OPAL M.V. beached in Alang on 17th-Feb-2007 in the plot no. 59 &
24 E of Y.S.Investments
Mr. Arif.

47. LADY M.V. beached in Alang on 17th-May-2007in the plot no. 62 &
24Hof Arya Ship Breaking Company Ltd. owned by Ravi Arya

48. CHEM PRINCE M.V. beached in Alang on 2nd-Feb-2008 in the plot no.
63 & 24J Bharat Ship Breaking Corporation owned by Nitin Kothari

49. EAST CARRIER M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 65 & 24L
Sachadeva Steel Products owned by Ashvinbhai Gujarati

50. BUKHTA GAYDAMAK M.V. beached in Alang on 3rd-Mar-2007 in the plot
no 71 & 24S Jai Bajarang Ship Breakers Pvt. Ltd.

51. SONJ M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 73 &
24U of Pure Enterprise P. Ltd owned by Surendra Garg.

52. ANSOVY M.V. beached in Alang on 27th-Dec-2007 in the plot no. 74 &
24V of P.V.R Ship Breaking Co owned by V.P.Jain

KSUDOZHNIK IOGANSON M.V. beached in Alang on 18th-Feb-2007 in the plot
no. 75 & 24W of Priyank Ship Breaking Co (P) Ltd owned by V. P. Jain

53. TELEDA M.V. beached in Alang on 16th-May-2007 in the plot no.77 &
24Y Ashwin Corporation by Vishnukumar Gupta

54. STOLT AVENIR M.V. beached in Alang on 23rd-Oct-2007 in the plot no. 78 &
24Z of Shri Ram Vessel Scrap owned by Mukesh Patel.

55. DEL-MAR M.V. beached in Alang on 25th-Oct-2007 in the plot no.81
of Shri Ram Vessel Scrap owned by Mukesh Patel.

56. CESCA M.V. beached on 24th-Nov-2007 in the plot no. 82 of Kiran
Ship Breaking Company
owned by R.K.Jain(Billa Sheth)

57. DAFA M.V. beached in Alang on 6th-Feb-2008 in the plot no.81 of
Mercury Marine Industries Pvt. Ltd. owned by Kamlesh Maru.

58. MEXICANA M.V. beached in Alang on 27th-Feb-2008 in the plot no.
154 of Bansal Ispat Pvt. Ltd.

59. LILLY M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-Nov-2007 in the plot no.158 of
Bansal Shipping P. Ltd.

60. AL SASANIYA M.V. beached in Alang on 3rd-July-2007 in the plot no.
V-4 of Hariyana Ship Demolition P. Ltd owned by Rajiv Reniwal

61. GEOLOG M.V. beached in Alang on 13th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. V-5
of Mahavir Indecto Melt Pvt. Ltd woned by Kishor Bansal.

62. HORIZON-I M.V. M.V. beached in Alang on 13th-Jan-2008 in the plot
no. V-7 of R.K.Industries (UNIT-II) owned by Mukesh Patel.

63. DPON M.V. beached in Alang on 23rd-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 103
Honey Ship Breaking Co.

64. MYS FRUNZE M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-Jan-2008 in the plot no.
103 of Honey Ship Breaking Co.

65. SAFY M.V.beached in Alang on 4th Dec 2007 in the plot no. 107 of
Unique Ship Breaker Corp. by Sohilbhai

66. FORT M.V.beached in Alang on 17th-May-2007 in the plot no. 108 of
Jay Bharat Steel Industries
owned by Ashok Bansal

67. ATLANTIC FOREST M.V. beached in Alang on 5th-May-2007 in the plot
no. 109 of Rishi Ship Breakers

68. MADONA M.V. beached in Alang on 16th-Feb-2007in the plot no. 110
of Shiv Ship Breaking Company by Ramesh

69. MERCUR M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 111
of Shiv Ship Breaking Company by Haresh

70. ULLA M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-May-2007 in the plot no. 113 of
Agrasen Ship Breakers

71. ALARABIA M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-October-2007 in the plot
no. 114 of Rajendra Ship Breakers owned by Rajendrabhai Gupta

72. SANTO C M.V. beached in Alang on 19th-Oct-2007 in the plot no 115
of Kumar Steel "INDIA" owned by Tarachand Shah

73. ADIRA M.V. beached in Alang on 5th-Feb-2008 in the plot no 120 of
G. K. Steel by Rupendra Gupta

74. HERA M.V. beached in Alang on 13th-Jan-2008 in the plot no 121 of
Kutir Ispat Udyog owned by Ashok Jain

75. GORNYAK M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-Jan-2008 in the plot no 123
of Husain Sheth & Sons (Ship Breaker)

76. CLEO PATRA-I M.V. beached in Alang on 9th-June-2007 in the plot
no. 125 of Maria Ship Breaking Pvt. Ltd owned by B. K, Agrawal /
Mukeshbhai.

77. OM M.V. beached in Alang on 1st-Feb-2007 in the plot no. 127 of G.
N. Ship Breakers owned by Balkrishna Agarwal.

78. PALLAD M.V. beached in Alang on 9th-May-2007 in the plot no. 131
of Sanjay Trade Corporation owned by Rafiq.

79. ACRUI M.V. beached in Alang on 8th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. 132 of
Harikrishna Steel Corp.

80. NAVIGATOR M.V.beached in Alang on 25th-Nov-2006 in the plot no.
133 Harikrishna Steel Corp.

81. AILA M.V. beached in Alang on 16th June -2007 in the plot no. 134
of Mayur Ship Corporation owned by Bharatbhai Dhameliya

82. MAKALU D/V. (TUG SEAWAYS-II) beached in Alang on 27th-Jan-2008 in
the plot no. 136 of M. V. Ship Trade Pvt. Ltd.

83. MEXICANA M.V. beached in Alang on 27th-Feb-2008 in the plot no.
154 of Bansal Ispat Pvt. Ltd.

84. LILLY M.V. beached in Alang on 28th-Nov-2007 in the plot no. 158
of Bansal Ispat Pvt. Ltd.

85. BLUE LADY D/V beached in Alang on 15 August 2006 in the plot no.
V-1 of Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd. owned by Sanjay Mehta

86. AL SASANIYA M.V.beached in Alang on 3rd-Jul-2007 in the plot no.
V-4 of Hariyana Ship Demolition P. Ltd owned by Rajiv Reniwal

87. GEOLOG M.V. beached in Alang on 13th-Jan-2008 in the plot no. V-5
of Mahavir Indecto Melt Pvt. Ltd. owned by Kishor Bansal

88. HORIZON-I M.V. beached in Alang on 29th-Jan-2008 in the plot no.
V-7 of R.K.Industries (UNIT-II) owned by Mukesh Patel.

Sources from Alang have informed that SS Independence (SS Oceanic) too has landed in the plot of Komal Sharma of Leela Shipping Pvt Ltd. It requires further corroboration because it has been served a notice by US authorities for violation of rules. If it does got beached it would be the 89th ship. The corruption rate per ship has increased as the worth of all the national, international rules and court orders is up for negotiations.

Supreme Court is being misled by the cash buyers who seem to have persuaded the Indian officials of all ilk to lobby for them. And they are boastful of having hired Abhishekh Manu Singhvi, the former additional solicitor general and a member of parliament who is arguing in the contaminated ships should be dumped in India without pre-cleaning. Gopal Subramaniam, the additional solicitor general too shares his views. There is a conflict of interest that has been overlooked so far.

Gopal Krishna

In the face of death
The working condition of the migrant worker at Alang Sosiya shipbreaking yard (ASSBY), Gujarat

In the last three months time 13 people died in Alang Shipyard and many more were injured. The deaths in Alang Shipyard and its frequent reporting in press highlight the problems of the shipyard. Many questions about the functioning of Alang Shipyard raised but are left out again in the space of time.

This time, The Times of India in its continuous reports tried to highlight the gruesome incidents of death but the Government has not risen to the occasion to protect the migrant workers from fatal death.

The Alang Shipyard incident raises the following questions :

1. Safety norms
2. Plight of the migrant workers
3. And violation of all acts

We all know that due to uneven development of economy in Capitalism, thousands of people from different parts of India are moving hither and thither in search of livelihood. Just to earn their bread they are ready to work under any condition. Compelled by their situation they have no choice but to choose whatever work they get. They don’t hesitate to work even in the face of death. The profit seeking contractors,businessmen suck them. Such is the state of affair of migrant labourers throughout the country.

The prevalent Inter State Migrant Workers Act( ISMWA) is never operational to protect the migrants Minimum Wage Act, Factory Act, Contract Labour Act etc are not implemented. All laws are flouted with the knowledge of the authority sitting in the Government.

It is not a matter of concern for the home States like Orissa , UP, Bihar from where the workers migrate to Gujarat. These States are virtually relieved of the growing rural as well as urban unemployed in their own States. Inspite of the social in-equilibrium the respective States never care for the quantum of migration from their States. Thousands of salt workers died in last Kandla cyclone in Gujarat . Hundreds more died in Reliance refinery factory in Jamnagar and no compensation was paid to the families of the deceased, as per the UN declaration on Migrant workers. An exercise was made to reduce the number of deaths and the rest were not even declared as missing. The respective State Govts. did not care to come forward to help the families of the deceased. The Govt officials of these States made a routine visit to Gujarat which are usually pleasure trips just to declare every thing was okay with mutual consent of the Guest State i.e. Gujarat.

This has been the practice for years. A legislature team from Orissa visited Gujarat to study the condition of Oriya Workers. Regrettably they were more interested in sight seeing and public receptions than to meet the workers or to speak on their behalf to the Govt. of Gujarat. The pleading of the author to take up the case of murdered workers in broad day light at Surat was just ignored. Returning back they did not highlight the plight of Oriya workers in Gujarat in Orissa Assembly. Such is the height of indifference of the Ruling as well as the opposition parties. In case of accidental deaths there is all likelihood that the families of the deceased workers get adequate compensation. There is no Trade Union to guard the interest of the workers. Registering any protest against the contractor means risking the job. So the migrants know only one thing and that is to earn and keep earning so long he is alive. There is no point of return. They know that no one is going to help them out, neither the Gujarat Govt nor the Govts of their respective States or any organisation. They think it is their fate accomplice. The tragedy is they are no longer welcomed in their families and natives for a longer time.

Their overstay at home scare the members of the families They have to return back to Alang and send money back home. Their hopeless condition has pushed them in to a very tragic vicious cycle. The Alang-Sosiya Ship-Breaking Yard (ASSBY) located in the Gulf of Cambay in the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat State in India is the biggest ship-breaking yard in Asia employing more than 30 thousand workers. There are around ten villages in the vicinity of ASSBY. They are Alang, Sosiya, Manar, Sathara, Kathwa, Bharapara, Mathavada, Takhatgadh (chopda), Jasapara and Mandva in 12 KM vicinity of sea coast. Conflict and amity is an usual phenomenon of the migrants with the locals. But segregation compel most of the migrants to stay in mushrooming slums which is humanly inhabitable in normal condition. With no readily available hospital facilities these workers are constantly exposed to hazardous condition – spurious, poisonous gas can play havoc any time. Few stay in rented houses in different villages. The locals are content with small and medium business due to ASSBY. 99% migrants are engaged in ship breaking in comparison to less than.1% local people.

The migrants, mostly from Orissa, Bihar, U.P., Maharashtra are very laborious so the ship breakers prefer migrants in ship breaking more than the local people.

This preference is a very normal practice in Gujarat including in power loom sector at Surat, Salt factory at Kandla etc.

There are 178 plots in ASSBY that dismantle more than 2.5 million tons of material round the year and where 30 ships can be broken in a month with an annual turnover of 3,500 crore. There are 2 departments to look after this work – one is Gujarat Maritime Board(GMB) and another is Controller of Explosion (CoE).For breaking ship no- objection certificate is issued by GMB and cleaning certificate is issued by CoE. We quote from the Times of India report published on 22.05.03 by Amit Mukherji.

Rules broken
“Serious doubts are being raised over the way no objection certificates are doled out by regulating agencies like the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and the Controller of Explosion (CoE).----Though the GMB authorities continue to blame ship-owners after every mishaps, it is the system failure which is the root cause.---there is hardly any accountability on the part of various agencies that issue clearance certificates to ensure safety of workers. Incase of “Inville”, authorities had issued safety clearance certifying the ship was fit for breaking .The Controller of Explosion had granted the “man entry”, “gas free “and “hot work” approval certificate before dismantling commenced. Despite CoE clearance presence of hydrocarbon and gases in the interior of Inville”was detected.” It is surprising how the certificates were granted there are ample traces of gases, Sulpher, furnace oil and other materials, which can wreak havoc if exposed to heat. ”Said an official of Forensic Science Laboratory. While GMB officer in charge ----admits “probably there are lot of areas which are ignored. ”And with Coe having it’s office in Vadodara, functioning often becomes difficult .Sources reveal that certificates are granted on mere verbal assurance and without any physical inspection. .Ship-owners often do not wait for all clearances certificates, says sources .

With the prices of steel the prime extract from the ship, varying on day to day basis, ship breakers often flout norms to sell off the scrap when prices go up .Some times , even ship breaking guide lines are ignored and interiors of the ship, which are normally broken down at the end of the operation, are dismantled earlier as there is good market for these products. This endangers the lives of the labourers as they work in suffocating and unventilated compartments, amidst hazardous gases. The role of GMB in granting certificates is also being questioned. Even after a ship breaker obtains certificates from the Coe, it is the duty of the GMB to verify them before the final go ahead is granted. And the GMB has just a chief officer and three safety supervisors who are expected to completely survey the ship. “ There could be slip-ups which come to light only after mishaps” admits Captain Deukar Of the three safety supervisors , only one is permanent employee, the others being on contract”. This very Report exposes serious loopholes.

The working conditions in a ship breaking yard treat life cheaper than steel. As quoted in the Times of India dated 23.05.03, “Taking cognizance of frequen deaths at the yard due to lack of safety measures Gujarat High Court has directed the state government in 1997 with a legal framework to regulate the ship breaking activities. The ‘ship recycling yard regulation’ – popularly known as Alang regulation. The new legal framework was put in place by enshrining it in the state government Gazette in August 2000.However, vested interests view it as an infringement on free activity that has been carried out in absence of safety measures. Hence, the Alang Act was never implemented”.

The nexus of Government officials, contractors and businessmen operating in that area ensure that the workers are not registered, do not get identity card by the employers, no information of working condition, false name are entered in the log book to evade legal compensation in any eventuality.

State Governments like Bihar, Orissa, U.P., where most of the migrants come from do not pay any serious attention to protect the workers according to the rules and regulations. In absence of rules regarding working conditions many more deaths will occur in coming days. Even in the face of death helpless workers will continue to work. Under these circumstances it is high time for the intervention of higher authorities in the administration, government, civil liberties organization, labour organizations to come forward and take up the issue.

Often media highlight the problems of Alang. But the authority has never paid any serious attention. A survey was conducted in 1999 by Bhavnagar University. Out of 361 workers 14 face accident, 11 suffer from burn, 14 from injuries. Only 10 wear helmets, 1 has the glove, and 3 use welding glasses, 32 receive informal training, whereas the rest are untrained. So the crude and obsolete technology is the backbone of the ship breaking enterprises .GMB is only interested in revenue collection without much liability for the workers. Profit maximization is the main Mantra of the Govt. by reducing the cost of shipbreaking. Though the Gujarat Govt is earning Rupees 3200 cores annually from the ship breaking, the Govt.is not organising ship breaking as an industry. It is not updating and improving the ship breaking technology to make it environmentally friendly and is ignoring the Safety aspects. Ironically 5th June is the environmental day and the

GMB has come out with big advertisements in media about their achievements.

Under all these circumstances the following measures should be taken in ASSBY

All kind of safety measures be taken to avoid accidents and deaths:

* Ship breaking should be considered as an Industry and covered under Factory Act and various provisions for safety as per Factory Act be followed.

* Safety consciousness as a Culture be developed.

* Ship breaking be updated with improved technology.

* All workers be given primary training about ship breaking and be provided with safety kitscompulsorily.

* GMB should be made responsible for all lapses and responsible officials be punished for all lapses.

* The workers should be given Identity Card, appointment Card by the employers and Labour Dept.

* should follow strict vigilance in this regard.

* Interstate Migrant Workers Act be applied which ensures accommodation, medical facilities, traveling allowances.

* Human Right of all migrant workers and members of their families be protected as per the UN CONVENTION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE MIGRANT WORKERS AND MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES.

* Ship breaking can only be after decontamination of the hazardous substance.

* A mandatory rule be framed to compel the owners of the ship to clean their ships before exporting them and ensure that tanks are gas free for hot work.

* A full fledged Fire fighting unit with adequate number of trained fire fighters be kept ready round the clock.

* Eight hour working norms with weekly paid holidays should be introduced.

* A well equipped hospital specially to take care of accidents of the workers be instituted.

* Adequate death compensation to the members of the families be paid with out any administrative hurdles.

* Planned accommodation for the workers be made.

* Long term plan for infrastructure e.g. road , housing, drainage, water, electricity be taken up along with social infrastructure like schools, hospitals etc.

* Attention be paid to save marine ecology, and ecology imbalance be guarded.

* Safe guard be taken because of social segregation of the migrants due to cultural divide.

* The Labour Dept of Gujarat as well as the Labour depts. States from where the migration takes place must guard the interest of the migrants and their working conditions

* The Human Rights Groups and Joint Parliamentary teams be allowed to visit the ASSBY and their recommendations be mandatory for the GMB and the Govt of Gujarat.

* A complain Secret Cell be instituted where the workers can complain fearlessly and get redressal without being sacked from the job.

* The State from where migration takes place must keep the record of the workers, make routine enquiry about the migrants, and place the report in their respective house of the Assemblies.

* GMB should take help of experts from different fields like engineers, marine science experts, environmental scientists, and experts in sociology and planning.

-- By Dwarik Nath Rath
( Secretary, Socialist Unity Centre of India, Gujarat State Organizing Committee. Member of PUCL, Gujarat, an activist, and presently fighting for the cause of the Migrants and power loom Workers in Surat)

Reliance Power Ltd (RPL) misrepresented facts to get green nod

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, November 24, 2008 | 10:15 PM

The company misrepresented a key fact in its application seeking environmental clearance from the Union government for its 4,000MW power plant at Shahapur in Maharashtra

New Delhi: Reliance Power Ltd, or RPL, part of the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, misrepresented a key fact in its application seeking environmental clearance from the Union government for its 4,000MW power plant at Shahapur in Maharashtra, according to court documents that have been reviewed by Mint.

The late 2006 application stated that the project would not involve any change in existing rules on purposes for which land in the area could be used.

Court documents, however, show that these rules, also called land-use rules, for the area were amended by the Maharashtra government earlier this year at the company’s insistence, to allow a power plant to be built in the area.

A spokesperson for the company acknowledged receipt of a detailed questionnaire from Mint but had not responded to it till late Wednesday evening.

According to the norms of the ministry of environment and forests, or MoEF, that issues such clearances, misrepresentation of facts could lead to the rejection of a project and a revoking of the earlier approval. An MoEF official, who did not want to be named, said that under the law, the ministry could do this. The official was speaking generally and not about the Reliance case.

In this case, Reliance Power applied for an environmental clearance for the project to MoEF, through its subsidiary Maharashtra Energy Generation Ltd, or MEGL, on 5 December 2006. At the time, the company claimed there would be no change required in land-use laws governing the land on which the plant was to be built.

The ministry approved the project on 21 November 2007. And the Maharashtra government, on 11 August 2008, revised land-use laws in the area and said, “M/s Maharashtra Energy Generation Limited, Mumbai, has requested government to include the said lands into industrial zone for the purpose of setting up of power project and other related infrastructure facilities.”

The documents do not say when MEGL applied to the state government asking for a change in land-use laws.

The court documents pertain to a case being heard by the National Environment Appellate Authority, or NEAA, and filed by a local farmer group, the Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti.

NEAA reserved its judgement at the last hearing on 15 October.

According to these documents, the land where the project is to come up is classified as Green Zone II. According to rules governing land use in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region under which Shahapur falls, land in Green Zone II may be used only for agricultural and allied activities with the quarrying of stone and mechanized stone crushing being permitted with prior approval of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

Also See Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (PDF)

“The regional plan clearly puts the area in Green Zone II from 1996-2011 because it is eco-sensitive. But all this has been ignored...,” said Anil Patil, secretary, Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti.

The commissioner of MMRDA, Ratnakar Gaikwad, could not be contacted and did not respond to a message left in his office.

The Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti had separately also filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court in 2006 against the land acquisition for the project by the state government. On 22 October, the court upheld the state government’s right to revise land use. It also allowed the state government to acquire the land, but not possess it.

Samir Kurkoti, additional district collector, Raigad, refused comment on the state government’s decision to change land-use laws and said, “Land acquisition is in progress.”

Reliance Power has projects with a total capacity of 28,941MW in its portfolio. Of these, projects generating 941MW have already been commissioned. The rest are in various stages of planning and execution.

According to the company’s red herring prospectus dated 1 January, the 4,000MW Shahapur coal and Shahapur gas combined gas-fired and coal-fired power project will require an investment of Rs13,200 crore.

Padmaparna Ghosh and Utpal Bhaskar
MINT

Environmental Challenges

Pollution: Each kind of pollution- air, noise, water- has significant impacts to our everyday lives, affecting all living and non-living factors in the biosphere and the atmosphere and also involve socio-economic factors. These impacts have caused significant changes to the environment we are living in.

Deforestation: They are the earth’s largest depository of natural resources and house half of the planet’s dryland species. But man’s greed is putting a saw through the fragile ecosystem and over the years half of the world’s forests have been transformed into a concrete jungle. Indiscriminate felling of trees for fuel and timber or for housing and agriculture purposes has gone on unabated despite the clichés mouthed by environmentalists and a line of successive governments.

Soil Erosion: Floods and soil erosion are two of India's greatest problems. Neither is new, but there can be no doubt that in recent years floods are taking an increasing toll on crops and the rapid progress of soil erosion in different parts of the country has caused grave concern. India is thought to be losing 4.7 billion tons of topsoil a year, mostly through water erosion. Its monsoonal climate, with the concentration of rainfall during a few months of the year, leaves its exposed soils vulnerable to erosion. About 60 percent of soil that is washed away ends up in rivers, streams and lakes, making waterways more prone to flooding and to contamination from soil's fertilizers and pesticides. Soil erosion also reduces the ability of soil to store water and support plant growth, thereby reducing its ability to support biodiversity.

Land Degradation: Decline in land quality caused by human activities has been a major global issue during the 20th century and will remain high on the international agenda in the 21st century. The importance of land degradation among global issues is enhanced because of its impact on world food security and quality of the environment. High population density is not necessarily related to land degradation; it is what a population does to the land that determines the extent of degradation. People can be a major asset in reversing a trend towards degradation. However, they need to be healthy and politically and economically motivated to care for the land, as subsistence agriculture, poverty, and illiteracy can be important causes of land and environmental degradation.

Waste Management: Urban India is likely to face a massive waste disposal problem in the coming years. Until now, the problem of waste has been seen as one of cleaning and disposing as rubbish. But a closer look at the current and future scenario reveals that waste needs to be treated holistically, recognising its natural resource roots as well as health impacts. Waste can be wealth, which has tremendous potential not only for generating livelihoods for the urban poor but can also enrich the earth through composting and recycling rather than spreading pollution as has been the case. Increasing urban migration and a high density of population will make waste management a difficult issue to handle in the near future, if a new paradigm for approaching it is not created.

Increasing Energy Consumption: India faces a huge energy deficit: till 2001, only 44 per cent of Indian households had access to electricity. But consumption’s galloping: between 1947 and 2001, India’s per capita power consumption rose from 15 to 592 units. If India has to move ahead economically, it must find ways to bridge the deficit.

High Carbon Emissions: Carbon dioxide emissions are causing the Earth’s climate to change and warm, which will have catastrophic results if we do not act to reduce them. Carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere are at their highest levels in recorded history, spanning over 650,000 years. The effects of climate change can be seen now. Temperatures are increasing, glaciers are receding at unprecedented speeds and storms are becoming more frequent and severe.

Source: NDTV

How to go green

"Going Green" doesn't have to be a daunting task that means sweeping life changes. Start by planting a tree in your backyard or neighbourhood. It's good for the air, the land, can shade your house and save on cooling and they can also improve the value of your property.

When taking a short trip, choose to walk or cycle. This reduces carbon emissions considerably.

Staying within the speed limit and smoothly accelerating can save upto 25 per cent of a vehicle's typical gasoline use.

Switching off one bulb for one hour saves upto 22,000 watts per year.

Lighting an empty office wastes enough energy to boil water for a 1000 cups of coffee and doubles a company's annual electric bill

Plug your computer, monitor and other home appliances into a power strip and turn them off when not in use- don't leave them in sleep mode. Sleep mode adds immensely to the electricity bill and unnecessary greenhouse gases.

Recharge your batteries. Batteries contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, which have become a major source of contamination in dump sites. They either break apart and are released into the soil or are incinerated and the deadly heavy metals are released into the air.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable. Even if they say they are, they do not decompose fully. Also the ink is made up of cadmium, and is highly toxic when it is released. Whereas paper bags are reusable and biodegradable. If your purchase is small don't take any bag, this alone could save hundreds of millions of bags. Bring a cloth bag when you shop, or use string bags.

Our oceans provide the earth with most of our oxygen, moisture, and weather patterns. To keep our oceans clean we have to start with our beaches. When you go to the beach you can help by bringing a trash bag and spend a little while picking up litter, or you can join a beach clean-up crew.

As little as ten years ago there were over 1.5 million elephants on the earth. Today there are only 750,000. By the year 2,000 they may become extinct. Over 80% of the ivory that is taken, is from elephants- Americans buy 30% of it. Over 6.5 million dolphins have been killed by tuna fisherman. To help you can: not buy endangered animal products.

Do not dump oil, grease, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, paints, cleaners, and other toxic household products down the storm drain. These drains, found in the gutters on the sidewalk, are not treated by the sewage treatment plant--they go straight into rivers, lakes, and maybe even the ocean! By putting these toxic chemicals down the drain, there is a great biological threat to marine life.

Use CFC free products. ChloroFluoroCarbons destroy the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UV rays.

One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.

Recycling just the Sunday papers would save more than half a million trees every week.

You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that's environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.

Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health.

Brush without running your tap dry. You'll conserve up to five gallons per day if you stop.

Adjust your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter. Each degree celsius less will save about 10% on your energy use!

If you must water your lawn, do it early in the morning before any moisture is lost to evaporation. Have a few weeds? Spot treat them with vinegar. Not sure if you should rake? Normal clippings act as a natural fertilizer, let them be. If you've waited too long, rake by hand — it's excellent exercise.

Most lighters are made out of plastic and filled with butane fuel, both petroleum products. Since most lighters are considered "disposable," over 1.5 billion end up in landfills each year. When choosing matches, pick cardboard over wood. Wood matches come from trees, whereas most cardboard matches are made from recycled paper.

Source: NDTV

Eco Facts

Ice caps are white, and reflect sunlight, much of which is reflected back into space, in turn cooling Earth; but with the ice caps melting, the only reflector is the ocean.
Darker colors absorb sunlight, further warming the Earth.

Scientists blame global warming for the declining penguin population, as warmer waters and smaller ice floes force the birds to travel further to find food.

Stressed by cyanide fishing, harbor dredging, coral mining, deforestation, coastal development, agricultural runoff, careless divers, and now global warming, there is a devastating loss of coral across the world.

With accelerated global warming, and the ice covering melting, the earth would be absorbing more sunlight, and is on its way to becoming hotter than before.

Due to global warming the polar ice cap in the Arctic region is shrinking and rupturing; if this continues, summers in the Arctic would become ice-free by the end of this century.

Everytime we burn oil, coal and gas to generate electricity and power, we produce the heat trapping gases that cause global warming.

Deforestation is one of the main causes of atmospheric carbon dioxide; burning and cutting millions of acres of trees each year, it is responsible for 20-25 per cent of all carbon emissions.

Water vapor is the most prevalent and most powerful greenhouse gas on the planet; it holds onto two-thirds of the heat trapped by all the greenhouse gases.

Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct!

Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!

One-third of the water used in most homes is flushed down the toilet.

A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.

Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours

Energy-saving lightbulbs last around ten times longer than ordinary lightbulbs- over 10,000 hours.

A laptop is more environment friendly than a desktop. It consumes five times less electricity.

An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!

A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15 per cent.

Tissue paper is a major source of waste. It takes 60,00,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

A ton of recycled paper equals or saves 17 trees in paper production.

A plant on your desk acts as a natural filter, absorbing airborne pollutants and computer radiation while replenishing oxygen levels.

Lawns only need watering once a week, post rain only after two weeks. Do watering early morning for minimal evaporation and water conservation.

Crawling traffic contributes eight times as much air pollution as traffic moving at regular highway speed.

Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year!

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and soaping your hands. This can save around 16 litres a day. That's 11,000 litre of water per person per year.

A dripping tap can waste over 20,000 litres of water every year.

Source: NDTV

Panel Discussion on Waste to Energy, Pune

Waste Matters and Janwani co-host a Seminar on

Waste to Energy

Is incineration of city garbage a good idea?

29th November (Saturday)

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

@ MCCIA

5th Floor, International Convention Centre (Crossword Building)

Senapati Bapat Road

Pune

Municipalities are struggling to cope with increasing volumes of garbage and demands for a clean city. As dumpsites get filled and with no more land available new solutions are being sought.

Incineration of waste is being touted as the perfect solution to this problem. It also promises energy from the process, an added allurement to cities reeling under power cuts.

Is WtE really the panacea for our garbage woes? Does the energy equation work? What will its environmental and social impact be?

Panel Discussion on Waste to Energy
29th of November 2008, 5.30-7.30 pm
Venue, MCCIA, Pune

5.30-5.45 Introduction to issue Sanskriti Menon
5.45-6.00 PMC Waste Treatment Plans Praveensing Pardeshi
6.00-6.30 Environmental, economic, political implications –WtE Gopal Krishna
6.30-6.50 Energy & Efficiency Implications of WtE Ashok Shreenivas
6.50-7.00 PMC and SWM- KPIs and towards SSLBs Ranjit Gadgil
7.00-7.25 Discussion
7.25-7.30 Vote of thanks Sanskriti Menon

Endosulfan in milk killed schoolkids in Ranchi, Jharkhand

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, November 23, 2008 | 10:08 PM

The milk which caused the deaths of five tribal students of the state Welfare Department-run boarding school — Adivasi Awasiya Vidyalaya — at Bedo block in Ranchi district on November 13 contained endosulfan, a highly poisonous compound found in pesticides and insecticides. The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) is expected to submit its report within a couple of days.

Endosulfan is an insecticide used in countries throughout the world to control pests on fruit, vegetables and tea and on non-food crops such as tobacco and cotton. It is a as a Persistent Organic Pollutant.

Endosulfan is a contact and stomach poison that has been used to control insects. The main source of exposure of the general population is food. Endosulfan is classified as a "Severe Marine Pollutant" by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.

After the tragedy, Bedo Block Welfare Officer Vishwanath Sahu had lodged an FIR against headmaster Kelment Tigga, warden Jugeshwar Sahu, cooks Jagat alias Soma and Laxman and the supplier of the milk Sarita alias Pratima, holding them responsible for the tragedy.

Tigga is still at large but interrogation of Soma, Laxman and Pratima, who were remanded to judicial custody on November 18, revealed that the milk was supplied by Pratima in the morning. “A number of students had consumed it then without any problems,” Pratima told The Indian Express. But the 43 students and Sahu, who drank it in the evening, became its victims. Five of them died and 39 others including Sahu were hospitalised within hours of its consumption.

Earlier, at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) of the UN's 'Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade' from 27-31 October in Rome, Indian government succeeded in blocking the addition of this neurotixic pesticide to the Rotterdam Convention. The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) treaty is meant promote information exchange about hazardous chemicals and to help less developed countries enforce domestic bans and restrictions on listed chemicals. Endosulfan had been recommended for inclusion in the treaty by its own scientific Chemical Review Committee, and almost all of the 126 countries that are Parties to the treaty supported it's inclusion. India was alone in blocking endosulfan. Indian government's delegation guided by the representatives of the Indian Chemical Council and government-owned Hindustan Inseceticides Limited, which makes endosulfan and is also the largest remaining producer of DDT.

According to UN's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, it is persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative, demonstrates long range environmental transport, and causes adverse effects to human health and the environment. Endosulfan is listed as a POP in the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), and is recognised as a Persistent Toxic Substance by the United Nations Environment Programme.

First registered for use in 1954, endosulfan is a broad spectrum organochlorine insecticide. Following international recognition of their long term negative impacts on the global environment, organochlorines, including DDT, chlordane and HCH, have been largely eliminated from use in global agriculture. Endosulfan remains the major exception and is still widely applied to crops – particularly in the developing world.

Widespread contamination Due to its potential to evaporate and travel long distances in the atmosphere, endosulfan has become one of world’s most widespread pollutants. Endosulfan is now found extensively in global water resources, soils, air, rainfall, snow and ice deposits and oceans, including in remote ecosystems..

In human breast milk

Endosulfan is a widespread contaminant of human breast milk and has been found in samples from women in India besides several other countries, and in umbilical cord blood samples in Denmark, Finland, Spain, USA, Japan. A survey of women in Denmark and Finland found endosulfan in all samples of breast milk (total = 280) and in all placental samples (total = 130). Neither country has ever recorded heavy use of endosulfan.

Threats to wildlife

According to the European Union “endosulfan is very toxic to nearly all kinds of organisms”. Levels in the environment are frequently high enough to impact on wildlife. According to the US EPA, “Monitoring data and incident reports confirm that endosulfan is moving through aquatic and terrestrial food chains and that its use has resulted in adverse effects on the environment adjacent to and distant from its
registered use sites”.

India is the largest producer of endosulfan in the world. Three major companies produce endosulfan in India — Excel Industries, Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL) and eid Parry. Excel is the market leader as far as endosulfan is concerned.

Endosulfan is one of the most frequently reported causes of unintentional poisoning. Earlier also poisoning incidents, including fatalities, are documented in India.

Impacts on health
Acute endosulfan poisoning can cause convulsions, psychiatric disturbances, epilepsy, paralysis, brain oedema, impaired memory and death. Long term exposure is linked to immunosuppression, neurological disorders, congenital birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities, mental retardation, impaired learning and memory loss.

Food contamination
Endosulfan is an abundant food contaminant globally and is present in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products (milk, butter, cheese) and meat (beef, lamb, pork).

Endosulfan is banned or withdrawn in 55 countries worldwide. Successful replacement of endosulfan has been achieved in all countries where endosulfan is now banned including France, Spain, Greece and Portugal – all majorusers prior to the EU ban in 2006.

In 2001, in Kerala, India, endosulfan spraying became suspect when linked to a series of abnormalities noted in local children. Initially endosulfan was banned, yet under pressure from the pesticide industry this ban was largely revoked. Achyuthan A studied the effects of the spraying. The situation there has been called "next in magnitude only to the Bhopal gas tragedy."

In 2006, in Kerala, compensation of Rs 50,000 was paid to the next kin of each of 135 people who were identified as having died as a result of endosulfan use. Chief Minister V S Achutanandan also gave an assurance to people affected by poisoning, "that the government would chalk out a plan to take care of treatment, food and other needs of the affected persons and that its promise of rehabilitation of victims would be honoured."

It is high time both central and Jharkhand government learnt how to stand up to the manifest influence of Endosulfan manufacturers, acted in unison to ban Endosulfan to safeguard public health, provided compensation to the victims and made the companies criminally liable for culpable homicide.

Industry Programme on Hazardous Waste, Batteries and E-Waste Management

Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in association with Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India organized a Training Workshop on “Hazardous Waste, Batteries and E-Waste Management” in Chennai from 19 - 20 November, 2008.

Waste Management is becoming one of the key concerns of the modern world, an international issue that is intensified by the volume and complexity of waste discarded by domestic and industrial activity. Environment Protection and its preservation is today the major issue all over the world.

With growing consumption of IT and electronics products in the country, the need for management of e-waste is being increasingly felt. The e-waste inventory based on this obsolescence rate in India for the year 2006 has been estimated to be 1,50,000 tonnes which is expected to exceed 8,00,000 tonnes by 2012.

Increasing consumption of lead acid batteries & generation of hazardous materials from Chemical fertilizers, pharmaceutical, galvanization, electroplating, tanneries, textiles and other process industries is a major environmental and health concern. It is needless to emphasize the impact of hazards associated with improper recycling of these hazardous materials.

The objective of two day training programme cum conference was to increase general awareness, development of hazardous waste, batteries and E-waste recycling industry, impart knowledge & skills leading to better management of hazardous eventualities and regulatory compliance.

Yamuna more important than development

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, November 21, 2008 | 10:53 PM


Justice Rekha Sharma's order in the Yamuna case

WP (C) No. 7506 of 2007
And
WP (C) No. 7507 of 2007

This judgement relates to a river which once flowed majestically but is now gasping for breath. If this continues, time is not far off when this gift of Gods, will die an unnatural death getting buried beneath the layers of silt. If no urgent remedial measures are taken Yamuna may exist only in books. It is this fear an anxiety that has made me pen these lines.

During arguments it was common case of the parties that development cannot be divorced from environmental issues and that development has to be compatible with the need to preserve, project rather improve environment. I think I am right in saying that it was at no point in dispute that development has to co-exist and not endanger or cause irreversible damage to nature. I therefore need not go into any lengthy discussion on this aspect of the matter or on what the courts have said, for they have also not said anything different.

What then is disputed ? The dispute is with regard to the application of the above said well delineated, well defined principles to the land in question located in Pocket III Phase I in Zone ‘O’. Development projects have been undertaken in that area. The petitioners says that the entire construction activity is on the riverbed itself which will destroy not only Yamuna but materially harm the entire ecologically sensitive area. The respondents, on the other than, assert that the land in question is not riverbed and that in any case, the entire construction work has been undertaken after due deliberation and after obtaining required clearance from the authorities concerned and that all remedial measures have been taken.

Is the construction on the “river bed”? My noble brother has gone at great lengths to fathom meaning and import of the term “river bed” and after having undertaken that exercise has, in his wisdom left to an “Expert Committee” to decide as to whether the site in question is on the “river bed” or not. I will revert to this “expert committee” a little later. Let me first deal with the question as to whether the site in question is on the “river bed” or not and if not, to what effect.

Let us first have a look at the NEERI Report of 2005. If we look at it carefully we will find that it described the land in question as “river bed”. It says on page 2.8 of the report that “Being centrally situated and considering pressures on the land, the land in river bed is precious.” Not only this, my learned brother has also noticed in paragraph 65 of his judgement and I quote:

“………..The MoEF has constituted independent Expert Committees called the Expert Appraisal Committee………. for seeking approval for the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village in the river bed. ……….The Expert Appraisal Committee applied the precautionary principle to emphasise that the proposed work should not be of a permanent nature………. and the river bed may be restored to the river.

My brother has also noted in paragraph 66, the Environmental Clearance for the project, accorded on 14.12.2006, on the following condition:

“Since the design of the proposed structure is yet to be made, so far as possible the work should not be of a permanent nature……… the proposals should proceed with the assumption that the river bed may have to be restored to the river”. (emphasis supplied)

I feel, with respect that in view of what has been noticed above, no doubt is left that the site in question is on the river bed. However, to my mind, even if it be taken that the site in question is not river bed, yet the urbanization of the site and colossal construction, under way may yet adversely affect the environment, the river and ecology. That it can be so finds support from the following culled out from the Master Plan.

“Apart from being the main source of water supply for Delhi, it is one of major sources of ground water recharge. However, over the years, rapid urbanization, encroachment on the river banks, over exploitation of natural resources/water and serious deficiencies and backlog in sanitation and waste waster management services have resulted in the dwindling of water flow in the river and extremely high levels of pollution in the form of BoD”.

During arguments, the respondents had heavily relied upon on the judgement of the Supreme Court in U.P. Employees Federation Case relating to construction of Akshardham Temple. The order passed by the Supreme Court would go to show that the larger issue now raised before us were apparently not raised or gone into. In any case, in view of the facts and circumstances of the present case and the great many disputed issued raised before us, the said judgement, with respect, cannot be treated as a binding precedent.

The Reports of the NEERI on which respondents had leaned heavily do not paint this body in bright colours. Rather, they show how it has changed colours and has not bothered to contradict itself. In its report of 2005 first it spoke against “heavy capital investment” and pleaded for “no large development activities except horticultural operations and provisions of green linkages with the adjoining and existing built up areas to maintain ecological balance and relief to the public”. It also spoke of “maintenance of existing vegetation” and warned against encroachments, building activity and “urban sprawl” and in the very next breath it recommended release of vast chunk of land “for urban activities”. Of course, my learned brother has also noticed the subsequent report of the NEERI and its affidavit dated January 29, 2008 and, with respect, I join him when he says “we are constrained to observe that his affidavit is the result of some of the loopholes in its earlier reports which were picked up by the petitioners and pointed out to the court. From an institution of this repute, it was not expected that report of this kind would be submitted.”

It is not only NEERI, it is the Ministry of Environment and Forest also which is equally guilty of changing its position. The proposal of DDA (who happens to be respondent No. 5) for seeking approval for the construction of the Commonwealth Games on the river bed came up for appraisal by the Expert Appraisal Committee constituted by the said Ministry. It is important to note that the Committee visited the site and only thereafter, and obviously after due deliberations emphasized that the proposed construction should not be of a permanent nature and the structures raised should rather be dismantable. Adopting those recommendations and agreeing with them, the Ministry accorded clearance on 14.12.2006 observing as under:

“Since the design of the proposed structures is yet to be made, so far as possible the work should not be of a permanent nature. It should be possible to take this point into consideration and adopt dismantable structures. Unless detailed studies lead to the conclusion that the proposed structures can be left behind permanently, the proposals should proceed with the assumption that the river bed may have to be restored to the river.”

And within a span of few days that report was ignored, the condition reproduced above was given a go-bye and the Delhi Development Authority was signaled to go ahead with the construction works “permanent or temporary” subject to certain conditions of little significant. In any case, the DDA had no difficulty in obtaining report from CWPRS, Pune which too, on closer scrutiny appears to be dubious.

It is a sad story of men in haste fiddling with major issues and resultantly playing havoc.

The significance and importance of the Commonwealth Games is not lost on any one. Even the petitioners acknowledged it. The parties also acknowledge the importance of economic development and the concept of sustainable development. Even the ambit and scope of public trust doctrine was not under challenge nor doubted and therefore, I need not deal with all these aspects. It may be stated even at the risk of repetition that what was disputed was the impact of the building activity on the Yamuna, its environment, ecology and the long term damage which, it was stated by the petitioners was pregnant with disaster.

As would be borne out from the above neither NEERI nor Ministry of Environment and Forest nor DDA can be said to have acted fairly and objectively. Their hands appear to be tainted. The issues involved are of great significance and importance and they require dispassionate, honest and thorough examination by experts of eminence and impeccable integrity. Since my learned brother also feels the same, we stand on the same pedestal. I do feel that constitution of a Committee of Experts would help and with regard to that also I stand by the side of my learned brother. It is a matter of great relief that Dr. R.K. Pachauri has agreed to be the Chairman of the said Committee. However, my learned brother is silent about the constitution and other salient aspects concerning the Committee which need to be spelled out in detail. Who will appoint the Committee ? Who will be its members ? What exactly would be the scope of enquiry by the Committee ? Can the Committee give interim report ? And to whom ? Similarly to whom it is to give the final report ? And to what effect ? These and other issues need to be dealt with. I therefore issue the following directions:

(i) A Committee of Experts would be constituted by the Court under the Chairmanship of Dr. R.K. Pachauri comprising of four members. Each party is directed to propose two names for its members within three weeks. Out of the proposed, the court shall appoint members in consultation with the Chairman. The Chairman, may, at his discretion, associate any non-members/expert/s. The Committee shall undertake study of the constructions, whether proposed or completed or underway, on the land in dispute and report within four months of its constitution as to whether they or any of them, whether in whole or in part affect or are likely to affect adversely, in any manner, the ecology of Yamuna river bed or the ecology of Yamuna river, its ground water recharge ability or violate in any manner, the public trust doctrine. The Committee shall give reasonable opportunity of hearing to the parties before formulating its reports. The parties shall extend required assistance to the Committee.
(ii) On submission of the report, any of the parties may apply to the Court for any further direction. The court may also suo-motu issue further direction/s as may be deemed proper after notice to the parties. All constructions whether complete or incomplete or proposed to be constructed shall be subject to such directions as may be made by the court on the receipt of the report / interim report of the Committee of Experts.
(iii) If during the aforementioned study of the Committee of Experts, the Committee finds that any construction, complete or incomplete or proposed to be constructed adversely affects or is likely to affect adversely the ecology of the river or its flood plain or is not in accordance with the development plans as proposed and sanctioned keeping in view the conditions on which environmental clearances had been obtained and immediate remedial action is required, it may make an interim report to the court. On receipt of such report, the Court may suo-motu or on an application by any of the parties, pass such order/direction/s as it may deem appropriate.
(iv) All third party interests created or proposed to be created on the land in dispute or in the constructions made or proposed to be made shall be subject to the directions as may be made by the court on the submission of reports of the Committee of Experts. It may be noticed here that we were told during the hearing that construction at a massive scale was being carried out. We had made amply clear that if despite the pendency of the writ-petitions the respondents or any other person were raising constructions or were creating third party interests they were doing so at their own peril. I reiterate that.
(v) The Central Government shall forthwith and not later than three weeks provide all working facilities including adequate office space and required staff to the Committee of Experts.
(vi) The directions with regard to the honorarium to the Chairman and the Members of the Committee of Experts and the expenses shall be issued later in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee of Experts.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rekha Sharma delivered the judgment in the Yamuna case on November 3, 2008
 
Copyright © 2013. ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) - All Rights Reserved
Proudly powered by Blogger