Over 25 groups and individuals have dashed off a letter to the prime minister, chief minister and governor of Maharashtra, union ministries of water resources and environment and forests, the planning commission, the central water commission, CAG, CVC and NAC, demanding a probe by an independent, credible group into water resource development projects in Maharashtra in the last 17 years.
Endorsed by several mass-based organisations, including National Alliance of People’s Movements, India Against Corruption, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Shramik Adivasi Sangathana, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, SOPPECOM among others, the letter has been signed by the likes of Ramaswamy Iyer, former secretary, union water resources ministry.
The letter says: “These (the probe) should include major, medium and lift irrigation projects, and hydro-power, drinking water and industrial water supply projects. The scrutiny should look at project design, current status, projected and actual costs, quality of work, dam safety requirements, intended and actual benefits, intended and actual environmental impacts, the intended and actual environmental management plan and its progress, rehabilitation and resettlement plan and its current status.”
It also raises concerns over the safety of Lower Tapi, Hathnur and Tarali dams. The letter also wants issuance of further technical, financial, forest, environment and wildlife clearances to dams in Maharashtra to be stopped unless the above mentioned scrutiny of existing and ongoing projects is completed and made available in the public domain, and necessary action taken.
It seeks amendments to the Environment Impact Analysis (EIA) notification to ensure all large dams, irrespective of purpose, are included for environment clearance, EIA and public hearings. “If a project requires forest land, then environment clearance should be made mandatory.”