India's Green Tribunal mandates shake-up to stop dodgy EIAs

February 15, 2012
The National Green Tribunal, India's fast-track court to handle environmental cases, has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to develop a mechanism to have authentic data in its environment impact assessment (EIA) reports and blacklist consultants who "cook" the data.

The directions were made by the bench which suspended the environmental clearance granted for expansion of a steel and captive power plant of Scania Steel and Power Ltd in Chhattisgarh. The MoEF was directed to "revisit" its decision of granting clearance after conducting a public hearing at the project site and nearby areas.

The tribunal found that data provided in the EIA report about the company was "unreliable" and several pollution indicators were shown even below their minimum detectable limit.

In hearing the case, the bench observed that the minimum detectable limit for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide as is 6 microgram per cubic metre but the EIA report indicated them as 5.0 to 5.3 mg/m3.

"Regarding water quality data it is seen from the EIA report that the fluoride levels are almost same in the ground water and surface water, which appears to be unrealistic," the bench observed.