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Pirna Iron ore mine, Goa stayed by NEAA


In a significant decision, the National Environment Appellate Authority  on 10-05-2010 has stayed the Environmental Clearance granted to the mine of Sesa Goa (a Vedanta owned company) located at  Village Pirna and Nadora in Bardez Taluk, North Goa. The project was granted environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on 09-06.2009 and was challenged before the National Environment Appellate Authority, New Delhi by a local group called Pirna Naroda Nagrik Kruti Samiti. 

The noted environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) informed that the main ground for challenge was that at the Public hearing held for the project, there was 100 % opposition on behalf of the local people to the mining project. Yet the Expert Appraisal Committee decided to overlook the opposition and in a mechanical fashion recommended for grant of environmental clearance. The minutes of the EAC meeting did not reveal that the EAC even bothered to look at the minutes of the Public Hearing.

Further, the EAC at the time was headed by one M. L. Majumdar who himself was on the board of four mining companies and therefore the decision was biased has held by the Delhi High Court in the case of Uttakarsh Mandal Vs Ministry of Environment and Forests.

SESA Goa, however, took the stand that 53 people supported the project. The NEAA however did not accept this contention since none of the 53 persons supporting the project were present at the Public Hearing. 

The NEAA in its order directed that he Ministry of Environment and Forest should constitute a sub committee of the EAC to visit the area and examine the reasons for the opposition to the mining and reexamine its impact on agriculture horticulture, school children, health, habitation, river and ground water etc and also in the light of the fact that the Ministry of Environment has imposed a moratorium on mining in Goa.

The NEAA further directed that the Committee should have three environment experts and one mining expert and advance intimation be given to the persons of the area who opposed the project.
The NEAA directed that the Environmental Clearance granted should be held in abeyance until further orders.


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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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