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Thread: Veerappa Moily's new green suit riles environment activists

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    Default Veerappa Moily's new green suit riles environment activists

    The same minister for oil & petroleum and MoEF? Seems absurd.
    Quoting from DNA (http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report...ivists-1939484):

    Veerappa Moily's new green suit riles environment activists

    Veerappa Moily’s appointment as the new union minister of state for environment and forests (MoEF) despite his eco-hostile track record even when heading other ministries has led to strong ire among the green lobby in the country. “Under Jayanthi Natarajan, the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on river valley and hydroelectric projects never rejected final environment clearance to any project. Even in the two cases the EAC declined clearance, the MoEF simply asked developers to come back with reformulated proposals for reconsideration. Now, if she is being called a roadblock then you can imagine the kind of eco-unfriendly projects the UPA wants to unleash with its new appointee,” said Parineeta Dandekar of South Asian Network of Dams, Rivers and People. “Is this how much the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance has learnt from its Delhi election debacle?”

    Moily has batted all along for controversial hydel power projects. In September 2012, his hurry in laying the foundation stone of an 85-MW Mawphu Stage II hydel project in Meghalaya is cited by many. “He laid the foundation stone of the project being developed by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited without a single statutory clearance from MoEF,” points out Dandekar.

    In the same year, he urged the Arunachal Pradesh CMO to “fast track” hydel projects such as 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Project in a letter though this is being strongly opposed even by Congressmen from downstream Assam given the huge amount of displacement it will cause.

    In 2011, Moily actually wrote to the MoEF against expanding boundaries of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka saying people from affected regions will lose homes and livelihoods. Environmental groups allege that the pressure against expansion has been coming not from people but from the powerful hydel and timber lobby which is causing serious environmental and social impact.

    Moily’s support for the controversial Netravathi diversion project for his constituency of Chikkaballapur in Karnataka has also been under the spotlight. It has tried to escape environmental clearance from MoEF despite plans to build eight dams inside the eco-sensitive Western Ghats region affecting protected areas. “Despite studies showing it being economically and technically unviable, Moily has been aggresively pushing for this project,” pointed out Dandekar.

    Rajesh Krishnan of Coalition of GM-free India also echoed this sentiment raising conflict of interests, since projects from oil and petroleum ministry also come for environment clearances.
    “His track record and his appointment at a juncture when the ministry is seized with several decisions on mega-projects which threaten forests and ecology will be seen as capitulation to industry.”

    Environmental activist Shripad Dharmadhikari of Manthan too called Moily’s (whose appointment as petroleum minister in place of Jaipal Reddy had come in for sharp criticism as a sop to one corporate group) additional charge a quid-pro-quo. Repeated attempts to reach Moily for his response drew a blank.

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    I think we have to blame ourselves for this. The voice of wildlife and environment lovers/sympathisers/activists is not pretty weak if not non-existent. Despite lots of clearances of projects in ecologically fragile places and/or having detrimental impact on the environment, the various chambers of commerce has managed to blame the Government and create a perception that India's economy is not doing well due to projects held up by MoEF. In life, perception is more important than facts as we all base our actions based on our perceptions. We have thousands of enthusiasts, who are well educated and computer savvy and who enter our forests for the thrill of wildlife experience. However, not many are ready to lend their voice. The MoEF, PMO and other ministries should be inundated with emails of protest whenever there is a clearance given to an ecologically devastating project. Only then the authorities will feel that our environment and wildlife is important. Else, we will face such situations where the Minister for MoEF is made to resign hours before Rahul Gandhi is to address a meeting of an industry association. Anyway, congratulations is due to FICCI and CII and other industry bodies for seizing the economic downturn into a perfect alibi to force forest clearances. Industry bodies are organised and have funds to lobby hard. Unless all the well wishers of India's wilds, NGOs, researchers, activists, wildlife photographers, and general public come together to raise their voice, our wild lands will be lost forever. If you want to save India's wilds from this concerted assault, do lend your voice to our campaigns.

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