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3 September 2000

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World Bank chief pulls up India over power reforms

CII ranking of states flawed: Andhra chamber

Ernst & Young rewriting dam report

Forex reserves decline by $31 million

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Highway linking four metros to be completed by 2007

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Ernst & Young rewriting dam report

BANGALORE: Ernst & Young, a top international accounting firm, said it was rewriting an environmental impact report on a hydel project after allegations that it plagiarised a report on a different project 145 km away.

The Ernst & Young report involves the construction of two dams close to the Dandeli Wildlife Reserve and the Ulvi Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka. When two saddle dams are completed, 87 hectares 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.

Ernst & Young was appointed by Murdeshwar Power to prepare a report for the $40-million Dandeli mini-hydel project on the Kali river in order to get government clearance, which occurred on June 5.

Local environmental groups were the first to charge that Ernst & Young had copied "word for word" an environmental impact report prepared by another consulting group last September for a different hydel project 145 km away, affecting a different type of forest.

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

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

The Bangalore-based Institute for Catchment Studies and Environmental Management had prepared the other ecological assessment for the Tattihalla Augmentation Scheme, which would involve submerging 564 hectares of dry and moist deciduous forest on the Bedthi River.

"Two completely different rivers. Two completely different types of dams. Two completely different forest types to be submerged. Two different locations," said Leo F. Saldanha of Bangalore's Environment Support Group. "Yet the environmental impact assessment report for both projects are identical. Word for word, para to para, section to section."

Except for a few minor differences, he said, "the villages, the species, the climatalogical data, the water and soil analysis, the sampling stations, are all absolutely the same. Ernst & Young have cared to change only the name of the dam."

Anand Rao, the scientist who wrote the Bedthi River report, told the AP that the Ernst & Young report was almost a copy of his work.

"How can you produce the same report when the physical features of the area are different?" Rao said. "It is a fraudulent report. Ernst and Young should accept their mistake and prepare a fresh report and submit it for environmental clearance from the authorities."(AP)


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