Tamil Nadu

‘Reference to Chinese city in green corridor document was inadvertent’


Will address concerns of all stakeholders, says consultant firm

Feedback Infra Pvt. Ltd., the consultant for the Salem-Chennai green corridor, which found itself at the centre of a controversy after making a reference to the Chinese city of Xi’an in the feasibility report for the multi-crore project, has described the reference as an “inadvertent error”. The firm has said it would address the concerns of all stakeholders of the project.

In a telephonic interview with The Hindu, R.S. Ramasubramaniam, co-chairman of Feedback Infra, said, “To be perfectly frank and honest, we were doing some research on what the typical impact of highway projects was, both in India and worldwide. So, that [Chinese] reference had been inadvertently put into this [document].”

When asked about the mention of a public consultation in the report and the lack of evidence for the same, Mr. Ramasubramaniam said, “There is an interpretation issue regarding public consultation – that has been incorrectly used.”

He said the public consultation process was statutorily mandated, and had to be carried out by the appropriate authorities. “We are far removed from that,” he said, adding that the firm would incorporate all relevant inputs in subsequent reports.

But the question remains as to how and why the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry, which is responsible for issuing clearances, did not raise the issue of the erroneous reference, and provided the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the project.

Mr. Ramasubramaniam, during the course of the interview, repeatedly referred to “statutorily mandated processes” that had to be carried out by the authorities for such projects.

Parallel activities

“Two sets of parallel activities need to be completed before the final verdict is [given]. One is the survey-related work – those are essential elements for formulating a view. Whether it is the impact on society, gender or environment, we have to go into the field and do some surveys. That is the work that has been started in a couple of districts,” he said. These will form the inputs for formulation of views on the project.

“Quite apart from all of this, there is a legally, statutorily mandated process for studies, inputs, public consultation, hearing and the final approval. That is a separate, statutorily mandated process,” Mr. Ramasubramaniam said.

He said the EAC had directed Feedback Infra to get its report vetted by an institute of national repute. “For future reports, we are making enquiries with institutes which are nationally recognised and have the necessary manpower and resources. Once the NHAI gives its approval, we will work in tandem with them,” he added.

The surveys being carried out by the district administration were important to get inputs for the reports, he said.

To a query whether the company would be “absolutely fair” to all the stakeholders concerned, he said, “Hand on my heart, there is no question of not addressing the concerns of every constituency. It could be farmers, the public, women, local industry, [it] could be anything.”

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 7:45:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/reference-to-chinese-city-in-green-corridor-document-was-inadvertent/article24250364.ece

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