Environment Support Group Parisara Samrakshana Kendra

S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, Hulemalgi Building, Chowkimath

1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens, Sirsi (Uttara Kannada Dt.),

Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Karnataka 581401

Bangalore 560 041. INDIA Tel: 91-8384-25139

Telefax: 91-80-6341977 Fax: 91-8384-27839

Email: esg@bgl.vsnl.net.in Email: appiko@vsnl.com

Website: http://www.altindia.net/esg/index.htm

18 August 2000

PRESS RELEASE

 

Ernst & Young Plagiarises EIA to push environmental clearance for Dandeli Dam Project

 

Two completely different rivers to be dammed. Two completely different types of dams. Two completely different forest types to be submerged. And, two completely different locations. Yet the "Rapid Environment Impact Assessments" for both proposed projects are identical. Word for word, para to para, section to section, and, except a few minor differences, the villages, the species, the climatalogical data, the water and soil analysis, the sampling stations, are all ABSOLUTELY THE SAME. How is this possible?

 

Ask Ernst & Young - the Knowledge Firm that proclaims from "Thought to Finish" they hold the highest standards of Corporate Ethics. They have even conducted a "Fraud Survey" in India. And Teleos and The KNOW Network in their 1999 Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) study, rated Ernst & Young 5th in a list of 20 global majors. (Ref.: www.eyindia.com)

 

Ernst & Young, "a company that recognizes environmental stewardship will yield benefits to the environment while also reducing environmental risks and liabilities", has in probably the worst case of fraud in environmental decision making history in India, completely plagiarised the Rapid Environment Impact Assessment of the Tattihalla Augmentation Scheme prepared by Institute for Catchment Studies and Environmental Management, Bangalore, a study conducted during September 1999. The only Ernst & Young have cared to change is the name of the dam, DMH for TAS.

 

DMH stands for Dandeli Mini-Hydel Project proposed downstream of Supa Dam on Kali river. The project costs about Rs. 180 crores (US $ 40 million approx.), and proposes construction of two saddle dams across Kali river close to Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Ulvi Bird Sanctuary and involving submergence of about 87 ha of moist deciduous and evergreen forests in the Uttara Kannada district of Western Ghats, all to generate about 130 million units of energy. This project of Murdeshwar Power Corporation Ltd. (MPCL) was cleared on World Environment Day, June 5th, 2000, by the Government of Karnataka as part of its Global Investors Meet.

 

Per the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, environmental clearances for the project has to be on the basis of an Environmental Public Hearing conducted by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the Karnataka Environment Department. The Karnataka Forest Department, the Karnataka Industries Dept., and the Union Ministries for Environment & Forests, and Power, have also to play their due role in clearing the project.

 

MPCL was assured by the Government of early clearances, if they managed an EIA. Ernst & Young promised to deliver the same, at a cost, whatever that may be monetarily. And they achieved the same in a matter of days, and submitted it in the very same month (June 2000). This was possible because Ernst & Young plagiarised the REIA of the Tattihalla dam project, which is proposed about 90 miles away, across the Bedthi river (DMH is across Kali), and involves submergence of dry and moist deciduous forests, mainly, with total submergence area being 564 ha (DMH submerges 87 ha of moist deciduous and evergreen forests),.. We could go on and on, about the species composition that is absolutely different, the formation of the forests, the names of villages, the physical features, so on and so forth.

 

In summary, excepting 5 original pages, much of the originality being description of the DMH project, the 65 page REIA prepared by Ernst & Young is an absolute copy of the REIA of the Tattihalla project. Shockingly, the DMH project did not even exist when studies for the Tattihalla project were conducted.

 

On the basis of this criminally fraudulent document, KSPCB decided to hold a Environmental Public Hearing for the DMH project on 21 August 2000 giving 30 days notice by public advertisement. Initially the REIA was available for public inspection, then disappeared, and has now reappeared as an Executive Summary. We have compared documents of both projects, and have absolute proof of Ernst &Young's fraud on the public interest and the governance system.

 

Thus, there is no doubt in our mind that any action less than the toughest is acceptable. Therefore, we demand that:

 

1.      The Proposed Public Hearing must be cancelled immediately.

2.      A Judicial Enquiry ordered into the incident to pin responsibility within the Government for allowing this fraud.

3.      Disempanel Ernst & Young as EIA Consultant in India.

We make this appeal in the wider Public Interest and in the interest of protecting the fast depleting forest cover of the Western Ghats, one of 21 bio-diversity hotspots in the world according to Conservation International.

 

 

 

Leo F. Saldanha/Bhargavi S. Rao Pandurang Hegde/Balachandra Hegde

Environment Support Group Parisara Samrakshana Kendra

Bangalore Sirsi

 

 

PS: We have copies of both REIA's for inspection at our offices. In addition, we could email on request the Executive Summary of the Ernst & Young REIA of DMH. This release has been made based on a detailed examination of all documents mentioned, and as well a site reconnaissance by Parisara Samrakshana Kendra members.