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Sunday Sep 03 2000
E&Y rewriting controversial report

BANGALORE
TOP international accounting firm Ernst and Young has said it was rewriting an environmental impact report on a hydroelectric power project after accusations that it plagiarized a report on a different project 90 miles away.

"We are investigating how this happened. The report was written and submitted in haste," said Kashi Nath Memani, the Ernst and Young director in New Delhi. "It’s a major embarrassment for us. We will be preparing another report and submitting it afresh."

Memani however added, "I’m neither denying nor acknowledging these allegations." He said the report was prepared by one employee and was not checked by a supervisor.

Ernst and Young was hired by the Murdeshwar Power Corp to prepare the report for the $40 million Dandeli Mini-Hydel project on the Kali River to obtain government clearance, which was given on June 5.

The report involves the construction of two dams near the Dandeli Wildlife Reserve and the Ulvi Bird Sanctuary in the southern state of Karnataka. When two saddle dams are completed, 215 acres of moist deciduous and evergreen forest would be submerged in the Western Ghats mountain range.

The global environmental group Conservation International has identified the Western Ghats as one of the world’s 20-25 treasure troves of biodiversity.

Local environmental groups charged that Ernst and Young had copied "word for word" an environmental impact report prepared by another consulting group last September for a different hydroelectric project, affecting a different type of forest.

Newspapers first reported the charges on August 27. - AP
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