Revised temporary secretariat plan needs fresh Environmental clearance: EAS Sarma

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Noted environmentalist and former secretary government of India EAS Sarma raised a pertinent point regarding validity of the Environmental clearance the state environment impact assessment authority(SEIAA)accorded to the construction of temporary government complex in capital region of Amaravati .

Because, state government has revised its plan and enlarged the area of the temporary secretariat, which needs further assessment by SEIA, say Dr Sarma.

“When SEIAA, at its 78th Meeting held on 9-2-2016 (Agenda Item No. 78.12), decided to issue statutory Environment Clearance (EC), it was apparently based on the temporary Government Complex being located over an area of only 20 acres as indicated in AP Government’s GOMs no. 19 (MA&UD) dated 3-2-2016. Subsequently, the government had enlarged the area of the temporary capital city to 45.129 acres in GOMs No. 32 (MA&UD) dated 11-2-2016. which SEIAA would not have been aware of. In that case, the earlier EC accorded for this project, in reference to the original extent of 20 acres, stands inoperable and invalid,” Dr Sarma said.

Writing a letter to the chairman of Andhra Pradesh SEIAA, Dr Sarma said SEIAA should now direct APCRDA to commission a fresh EIA study for the temporary government capital complex occupying 45.129 acres, place the same in the public domain calling for objections/ suggestions from the people, incorporate the same while considering APCRDA’s modified proposal and take a view on whether an EC could be issued or not and subject to what conditions.

According to Dr Sarma, already the statutory Environmental Clearance (EC) was issued by SEIAA on 9.2.2016 stands vitiated for three reasons: 1. The EIA study on which SEIAS had based is EC had not been disclosed to the public in advance, 2. No sufficient time given to the public to express their objections or suggestions, if any, and 3. SEIAA’s decision in itself is a summary one without any mention of the considerations that went into it.

He asked the SEIAA to examine the question whether it had jurisdiction to consider the revised proposal or whether the proposal should be referred to MOEF for evaluation at the EAC constituted by that Ministry.

“Neither SEAC nor SEIAA can brush aside the fact that the temporary government complex as proposed will deprive several farmers and others of their livelihoods and the resultant socio-economic impact appraisal constitutes a legitimate part of the EIA procedure.” he said in the letter.

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