‘Nauroji Nagar project cleared on plagiarised reports’

Portions of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) plan used to obtain permission for redevelopment of Nauroji Nagar, were plagiarised, an analysis by environmental activists and researchers show.

The Hindu has independently verified these documents.

The Nauroji Nagar project was among the projects awarded to NBCC, a public sector company, to set up residential and commercial buildings, over 571 acres, in south Delhi.

Political blame game

The project waded into controversy after it emerged that this would involve felling of at least 11,000 trees. Though some trees have been felled in Nauroji Nagar and construction is under way, the project has been stayed after legal challenges and citizen activism.

Though clearances were accorded by both the Delhi and Central government in 2017, in light of the controversy, each has sought to blame the other for granting permission for tree felling. While court hearings are ongoing, the project developers are redesigning the project.

TN water bodies

NBCC hired the Chennai-based firm, Hubert Enviro Care Systems (HECS) as consultants to prepare the EIA.

In the 168-page plan for Nauroji Nagar, they mention collecting water samples for assessing quality between October and December 2015 from “…Vellanguli lake, Kallidai lake, Singampatti lake, Manimuthar dam, Thamirabarani river d/s, Thamirabarani river u/s, Ambasamudram lake and Gadana river.”

These are water bodies in Tamil Nadu and, it emerges, sourced from an unrelated EIA plan that that the HECS had prepared for the Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd in May, 2017. In the same report, a table that supposedly lists out bird species in the area mentions instead “…cow, cat, mouse, dog”.

The EIA document is a legal requirement for a company planning to undertake a substantial infrastructure project. In the document, the project developer spells out how they intend to execute construction with minimal damage to the environment and an expert appraisal committee — put together by the Union Environment Ministry — recommends or rejects a project proposal, based on their assessment of what is presented in the document.

In a hurry

“...The environment clearances for these projects were granted in an extremely rushed manner and the Expert Appraisal Committee [EAC] has failed to carry out detailed scrutiny as required under the EIA notification, 2006,” said researchers Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon of the Centre for Policy Research.

They have written to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan pointing out the “shoddy” EIA and demanded that clearances be “revoked” and the EIA consultants be “debarred”.

Their letter also alleges that the NBCC has violated the terms of reference or the conditions under which clearances were granted for these projects to go ahead.

“In the present case of the redevelopment project, approval has been granted to individual projects even though their cumulative impacts have not been studied before the approvals are decided,” the letter stated.

The Hindu could not immediately get a response from the HECS and the Environment Ministry officials.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2021 9:45:18 PM |

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