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
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)