25 July 2012, Letter to PM on Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to Gangaji

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To,

Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister of India
& Chairman of
The National River Ganga Basin Authority,
Prime Minister’s Office,
7, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110001
Smt Jayanti Natrajan
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (IC),
Member Secretary, NGRBA,
New Delhi
  1.  
    1. C. To all members of NRGBA

Ref.: 15 June Office Memorandum regarding Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to Gangaji
Respected Sir,
We came to know that on 15 June 2012 Ministry of Environment and Forest issued an office memorandum for the "Constitution of an Inter-Ministerial Group on issues related to river Ganga" by using the power given in the NGRBA Notification dated 20th February, 2009.
Memorandum says that "It was recommended in the NGRBA 3rd meeting to constitute a multidisciplinary group to look at the various options with regard to conservation, irrigation use and running of the Hydroelectric projects to ensure uninterrupted flow of river Ganga".
15th June OM also narrated the 3 objectives and 15 members including 3 expert members from NGRBA.
It seems that the whole exercise of making a committee is again an eye wash, related to the national river Ganga’s environmental and ecological health. It is also against the permanent development of the area of origin of Gangaji as well as the Himalayan range. We are giving some point wise objections for this committee.
  • This Office Memorandum was not publicized anywhere by any of the member ministry in this committee including the Ministry of Environment and forest till today.
  • Inclusion of members in the committee is also a violation of the spirit of democracy. The selection of Ministry members was not done keeping in mind any criteria of expertise in environment or social-economic back ground.
  • Inclusion of expert member from NRGBA appears to be a random selection. There is no valid reason or criteria for selecting these three people.
  • The TOR is also not very definite and precise. There is no stay on ongoing projects.
  • What about the HEPs who did not get Environment and Forest clearances? For example, the HEP on the River Pinder. This is still the only free flowing tributary of Gangaji.
  • Only three months were sanctioned for doing the study (of which already half the time has passed). It was also sanctioned to people who know nothing about this vast issue and do not have much time to complete this in the right way. It is incomprehensible.
You have shown much concern towards Gangaji but making this kind of committee shows the lack of intention to save Gangaji from Gangetic Hydroelectric Projects and free flowing pollution.
It seems that the whole process of making the committee is adhoc and impulsive, without much planning and transparency. This step does not take into consideration all the issues and concerns raisied around this important river, Gangaji.
Thus we demand you:-
  • Spare Gangaji from the devastation that will be caused by under construction and planned Hydro Electric Projects.
  • To ensure this, repeal the Environment and Forest clearances of all Hydro Electric projects on the 'Bhagirathi Ganga' and 'Vishnupadi Alaknanda Ganga,' as well as on all their tributaries.
  • Conduct a comprehensive credible and independent study on the impacts of HEPs and the ways in which we can protect Gangaji.
  • The terms and conditions of conducting this Study should be made public. Peoples' organizations, independent environmentalists and social activists should be the part of the report making process.
  • The recent "Study on Assessment of Cumulative Impact of Hydropower Projects in Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Basins up to Dev Prayag" done by the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee is incorrect and should be abandoned immediately.
  • Stop all construction of HEPs on Gangaji till aforementioned study is completed.
  • 130 km of the Bhagirathi ganga was scheduled to be declares an Ecosenstive Zone. This should not be delayed.
We hope you will respond to these concerns immediately.
Sincerely yours,
Vimal Bhai (convener), Puran Singh Rana, Rajendra Singh Negi, Narendra Pokhriyal