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The bench condoning the delay said “in view of the The bench condoning the delay said “in view of the discussions made above, the delay being less than 90 days, this Tribunal after appreciating pleadings and documents referred is satisfied that there was sufficient reason and that deliberate latches (not acting in reasonable amount of time) cannot be attributed to appellant”. It also said that Lavasa’s allegations against petitioner and questions relating to locus-standi of Shedge “involve intricate questions of facts and law which can be dealt with only in course of hearing of the appeal”. Shedge had submitted that several “substantial questions” relating to environment are involved and “if the project comes up, the right of the appellant as well as other poor villagers living in the vicinity shall be affected under Article 21 of the Constitution (relating to Fundamental Right to life), in as much as they will be deprived of clean environment and a healthy life”. The petitioner has alleged that the action of MoEF in granting EC to the project was “arbitrary”. “There are also several other allegations with regard to the faulty procedure adopted as well as de-relegation of statutory provisions by the MoEF which according to the appellant goes to the root of the decision making process, consequently the EC granted suffers from the vice of non consideration of relevant facts and law and cannot be sustained”, the tribunal noted from the Shedge’s submissions. The Tribunal is also hearing a separate petition filed by Lavasa challenging the environment ministry’s decision to impose conditions with the EC, which is likely to be heard on July 19. Lavasa had also questioned the applicability of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006, requiring environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), for the project. (More) PTI UPT


Sustaining the Environment

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On completing three years in office the UPA Government recently released a ‘Report To The People’. The following achievements pertain to the Ministry of Environment & Forest and in the field of sustaining the environment.

National Action Plan on Climate Change
The National Action Plan advocates a strategy that promotes, firstly, the adaptation to climate change and secondly, further enhancement of the ecological sustainability of India’s development path. The eight missions under the PM’s Council on Climate Change are the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the National Water Mission, the National Missions on Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, and Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, and the National Missions for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, a Green India and Sustainable Agriculture.

Forest Conservation
An amount of Rs. 848 crore was released to State Level Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authorities to carry out protection, conservation and regeneration of natural forests in addition to compensatory afforestation. National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) was established in October, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property. Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the five place of sitting of the NGT.

Mission Clean Ganga
Projects worth nearly Rs. 2,600 crore have been sanctioned by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). These include projects for development of sewer networks, sewage treatment plants and sewage pumping stations, electric crematoria, community toilets and development of river fronts.

Several innovations have been introduced for improved implementation of projects sanctioned by the NGRBA. These include Tripartite Memoranda of Agreements, project appraisal by independent institutions, Third Party Inspection, etc. State River Conservation Authorities have been constituted in the five Ganga basin States to facilitate better coordination and implementation of conservation activities at the State level.

The Central Government has secured World Bank assistance of US$ 1 billion for the NGRBA Programme. The World Bank project will support NGRBA’s immediate objective of Mission Clean Ganga.

Tiger Conservation
A detailed report on the country level status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India was released in July, 2011. This was the second round of country level snapshot assessment. The earlier estimation made in 2006 indicated that there were 1411 tigers in the country; the current estimates show that this number has increased by about 20% to 1706.

India activists hail mining firm’s loss of UK award

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Human rights activists in an eastern Indian state welcomed the announcement Tuesday of the British Safety Council’s (BSC) decision to withhold a prestigious award to a transnational mining group.

The charity organization that deals with global health, safety and environmental issues Tuesday said it was suspending a “distinction” award to Vedanta Aluminum Limited in view of pollution allegations from activists and the firm’s failure to disclose the death of a worker in April at its refinery at Lanjigarh in Orissa state.

A BSC press release called for a proper investigation into the allegations.

The council was to present the award at a gala dinner on Friday in London.

Welcoming the BSC decision, Prafula Samantara, convener of the National Alliances of Peoples’ Movements, wondered how a firm that he alleged was looting natural resources and tribal people could be chosen for the award and invited to an event billed as the Oscars of health and safety measures.

“It makes a mockery of safety measures,” he said.

Sandeep Pattnaik, who coordinates the National Center for Advocacy Studies in Orissa, alleged tribal and dalit (former untouchable) groups face harassment and arrests for protesting pollution and an ash pond near their villages.

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India, Bangladesh inch towards Teesta, extradition pacts

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New Delhi, May 7 — Signalling a positive movement forward on contentious issues, India and Bangladesh Monday said they have inched ahead towards signing of the Teesta river water-sharing accord and a long overdue extradition treaty.

India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni had a “very useful and productive” first joint consultative commission meeting, after which they sounded positive over several bilateral issues, including the delayed Teesta accord.

“We look forward to making progress and finishing the agreement on Teesta water sharing at the earliest,” Krishna told reporters after his talks with Dipu Moni.

“We are trying to develop a political consensus in India. It is important that the views of all those who are dependent on its waters are taken into account and the burden is shared equitably,” he said, referring to the Teesta agreement.

Opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is an ally of the United Progressive Alliance union government, led to India not signing the water sharing agreement with Bangladesh during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka last September.

Noting that the Teesta accord is being discussed since 2009, Krishna said there is no change in the ground situation, though the two sides shared data during a technical meeting held in Kolkata in February.

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Rally by Agate Workers-Gujarat

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International Workers Memorial Day was observed on May 1, instead of 28 April by Agate workers. Victims of silicosis, mothers-widows-children and other family members of the diseased workers cam together at Shakarpur to pay homage to the workers who died in Silicosis during last one year. Pictures of the diseased workers were garlanded and then two minute silence was observed. Jaysh Dave, Ramesh Makwana and Jagdish Patel spoke on the occasion. Jagdish congratulated them for organizing rally for the first time. Ramesh-who returned from Hong Kong after attending various programs organized by Asia Monitor Resource Centre to launch their latest report “Invisible victims of Development – Report on H & S in 6 Asian Countries.”- shared his experiences and learning.

Later rally set out from Shakarpur to Khambhat. They all walked 3 km distance in soaring heat (41+ degree Celsius.). They demanded that the officer climb down to accept the Memorandum but he refused.Later, representatives of the victims visited him in his office and presented the memorandum. He promised to forward it to the higher ups in Government.

Earlier, on 27 April when Health Minister Jay Narayan Vays visited Khambhat for a Government public function, Memorandum was presented to him by the victims


Govt plans mines safety training in 19 districts Dept Move A Ray Of Hope For Miners

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Jaipur: In an effort to curb unsafe mining, the state government has decided to conduct training in mines safety in the 19 silicosis-affected districts. The training to lease holders will be imparted by the department of mines and geology in collaboration with the director general of mines safety (DGMS).

The department of mines and petroleum has recently issued a notice to the director of mines and geology department asking it to prepare a schedule for such a training programme in co-ordination with the DGMS and to intimate the same to all mining lease holders in the state. The department’s orders follow the intervention of the Mine Labour Protection Campaign (MLPC).

In his letter, Sudhansh Pant, secretary, mines and petroleum department, has stressed on the need for conducting a training on mines safety across the 19 silicosis affected districts. He has said that such a training programme is mandatory under the Mines Act, 1952.

The department’s orders is being seen as a huge step in ensuring safety of mine workers. According to Rana Sengupta, managing trustee, MLPC, “This is for the first time in the state that the department of mines and the ministry of labour will join hands to ensure safe working conditions. Though it is mandatory for all lessee of mines to intimate and get permission from the DGMS before beginning mining operations, but such a practice has eluded the state.”

The DGMS is the Union government’s regulatory agency for safety in mines and oil fields under the ministry of labour and employment. The mission of the DGMS is to continually improve safety and health standards, practices, and performance in the mining industry and upstream petroleum industry. The DGMS enforces the provisions under the Mines Act, 1952.

“As per the Mines Act, 1952 after being granted the lease of any mining site by the state government, it is mandatory for the lessee to intimate the DGMS in the Centre and the state pollution control board before resumption of any operation. But in Rajasthan, there has been negligible cooperation between state and central departments. Thereafter, the department of mines computerised the lease renewal process for mine owners and those who did not seek permission from the state pollution control board by default got their leases cancelled,” said Sengupta