Public hearings being reduced to a farce, it says
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has condemned the ‘undemocratic manner' in which the public hearing for the proposed calcined petroleum coke was held on Chatametta village of Rambilli mandal in the district on June 6.
“Public hearings are a tool for environmental governance and it can't be reduced to a mere formality,” NPAM national convener B. Ramakrishnam Raju and co-conveners P.S. Ajay Kumar and Kavula Saraswathi said in a statement.
Recalling the incident, they said the project-affected people had wanted the Environmental Public Hearing cancelled as adequate information on pollution and health effects from the project was not made available to them.
They sat in protest on the road demanding cancellation of the EPH. The police roughed up a few protesters which led to retaliation from the public. Meanwhile, officials reached the public hearing venue through an alternative route and began the EPH despite protests from people. On knowing about the meeting people reached the venue and some of them expressed their opinion. J.V. Ratnam, member of the Movement for People Centered Development, distributed pamphlets at the venue exposing the errors in the EIA report and expressed his opinion to the electronic media.
The police filed a case under 307 against him and 25 others, including women.
The NAPM leaders said dissent was an essential ingredient of democracy. “If there is no tolerance towards dissent and ‘attempt to murder cases' are filed against persons differing with ‘company reports' how can call ours a democracy,” they said
The public hearings are being reduced to a farce with hardly any importance being given to their opinions. No attempts are made to clear the doubts of the people. The participatory aspects of environmental public hearing ‘are reduced to a joke', they alleged.
NAPM demanded the withdrawal of cases filed against people and addressing their genuine concerns appropriately through a consultation process.