Forum for Better Visakha convener E.A.S. Sarma on Saturday expressed anguish over certain observations made by two-member team deputed to Sompeta, Bhavanapadu and other areas to find out violation of norms.
The team headed by Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Sudhakar Reddy carried out inspection during July 17-19. Mr. Sarma said the observations made by the team on Sompeta were positive. The team corroborated most of what FBV had said all along but was consistently ignored by the State Government and the Ministry of Environment and Forest leading to police firing at Sompeta on July 14.
Mr. Sarma said the MoEF should follow up on what National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) had ordered on Sompeta i.e. make a detailed identification and assessment of the wetlands in Srikakulam district and take such measures to protect whatever little of it that remains on the ground.
The team should have dealt with the ecological characteristics of the private lands acquired by Nagarjuna Construction Company in Sompeta area. They too are wetlands. They have around 160 acres of land under the occupation of D-Patta land assignees. Mr. Sarma, former Union Power Secretary, said NCC's purchases to that extent were illegal as they violated AP Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfer) Act, 1977. All these private lands should be resumed and restored to those that sold them so that their present condition may be maintained.
On Bhavanapadu, he found fault with the team for fully utilising the detailed documentation FBV and civil society bodies had given. “To say that the company had not started the construction work without prior clearance is contrary to the facts which we are prepared to prove. The company changed the water flow patterns at the site, raised the ground level and destroyed the greenery, all without caring to await the environmental clearance,” he stated in the letter.
The team did not mention how the company misled the Experts Appraisal Committee by saying that it had surrendered 500 acres of land on the south of the site but, simultaneously, creating a benami entity, Meghavaram Power Company, keeping MoEF in the dark.
On Jindal and Anrak Alumina Refineries, the team had provided incorrect information on water availability about which FBV had apprised MoEF umpteen times without any response, he regretted.