Eco impact study for Kaleswaram begins
Hyderabad: Union environmental ministry and Central Pollution Control Board officials started a five-day assessment programme on Tues-day, on the impact of the gigantic Kaleswaram Project on the environment.
The mammoth project will be taken up in 15 districts of the Telangana State. Officials of the ministry and board, NGOs, opposition party representatives and members of the public are taking part in this marathon debate and expressing their opinions. The impact on environment is a man-datory assessment th-at has to be tabled bef-ore the Union envi-ronmental ministry formally approves the clearance of the project.
On the first day of the five-day-assessme-nt programme, the central team conducted the assessment in four districts — Niz-amabad, Karimnagar, Medchal, Malkajagiri and Bhongir — where arguments in favour and counter argume-nts against the Kales-waram project were recorded by the team. This exercise will continue up to August 26, covering the remaining 11 districts.
The state government has submitted a report prepared by Environment Protec-tion Training and Research Institute (EPTRI) which concluded that if the State Government follows the rules, amendments and notifications given by ministry of environment and forestry then the environment will not be affected, with the project being largely beneficial for the surrounding areas.
This is being objected by the environmental activists, NGOs and few opposition parties who insist that a total review should be made through the Environ-mental Impact Asses-sment. At a meeting held in Bhongir on Tuesday, objections were raised by the farmers belonging to the Baswapur and Gandhamalla reservoir whose lands are going to be submerged. They demanded better compensation that should be preferably according to the 2013 Land Acquisition Act.
However Bhongir MP Dr Bura Nara-saiah Gowd said in the meeting that the State Go-vernment has no ob-jection in providing a Rehabilitation and Resettlement package as per 2013 Act and Grama Sabhas will be conducted at the time of acquisition of their lands. He also reiterated that the meeting was confined only to study environmental impact and not on issues on land acquisition.
At Nizamabad, tribal farmers objected to the project stating they will lose all their life’s possessions on acco-unt of the project work in their areas.
Dr Donti Narasimha Reddy, a green activist said the whole exercise of EPTRI which had prepared the report, was an eye-wash and it was as though they had prepared the whole report sitting in the office instead of assessment at ground level. He said there were no details about the im-pact the project would make, particularly on the lives of people in the 1,527 villages and how they are going to benefit from the project etc. He said EPTRI relied on soil testing done in four villages and extended the same finding to all the villages which is scientifically incorrect.
The EPTRI had, in its report, stated ‘the project increases the agriculture yield, increases crop intensity and crop area, crop diversification, more commercial fish production and increased employment in related industries, due to the increased crop output. This would create beneficial impact on wildlife, flora and fauna, assurance of food security and poverty eradication. The flora and fauna study indicates that there are no rare and threatened flora and fauna in the project site, the report stated.