|Consultants plagiarise report to get Karnataka
power project cleared
NEW DELHI: Can the environmental impact of
two dam projects at different locations and on two different rivers
be exactly the same? Can the villages to be submerged, the areas'
flora and fauna, even the soil and water analysis data be exactly
Yes, if Ernst & Young, which calls itself
``one of the world's leading professional services organizations''
is to be believed.
Although it's only a 20 MW project,
experts are calling it a ``serious case of fraud in environmental
decision-making in Indian history.'' And the green brigade in
Karnataka is salivating, for never before has it got such ammunition
to campaign against a power project. Especially when the state
government gave an ``in-principle clearance'' to the project based
on this report. And the state Pollution Control Board even held a
public hearing, mandatory for all such projects, on August 21.
The controversy hinges on an environment impact assessment
report prepared by Ernst & Young for its client, the Murdeshwar
Power Corporation Ltd, for the Rs 180-crore, 130-mu (million units)
Dandeli Mini-Hydel Project (DMH) in Karnataka.
Sixty of the
65 pages of this report have been reproduced ad verbatim from an
impact report of the proposed Tattihalla Augmentation Scheme (TAS),
a state government power project. That report was prepared by the
Institute for Catchment Studies and Environmental Management
The Express has with it both the reports
and they are identical, word by word, para by para. The only change
Ernst & Young have made is to introduce the name DMH wherever
the name TAS appears.
The DMH project was not even conceived
when studies for the Tattihalla project were conducted. In fact, the
Ernst & Young report did not even change the timing of the field
observations: field observations for both the projects were done
from June to September, 1999!
When contacted, Sudipto Das,
Director of Environmental Services, Ernst & Young, claims that
one mistake they could have made is ``not attributing the source of
the data.'' But he insists that ``ethically and professionally, no
wrong was done.'' Why?
One: Although the two projects are on
different rivers and at different locations_over 100 km apart_the
``data may not be radically at variance with each other'' since this
is a ``macro-level'' study, the ``micro-level'' research will be
done next month. And anyways, Das claims, the two projects are only
``10 km apart as the crow flies.''
Two: Das claims that
ICSEM, which wrote the TAS report, and Ernst & Young were
``joint signatories'' to the report.
Nonsense, says ICSEM's
Scientist In Charge Anand Rao, one of the authors of the TAS report.
``It's copied cent per cent,'' says Rao adding that there's no way
both projects can have ``identical environmental impact even at the
macro level.'' Especially, when there are striking differences in
the characteristics. ``The forests around the Tattihalla project are
degraded and the fauna is rare. But the forests surrounding the
Dandeli project are evergreen,'' says Rao. ``Even the places
mentioned in the Ernst & Young report are nowhere near the
Dandeli project. They didn't even correct our spelling mistakes!''
Managing director of the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited
(KPCL), the state-owned enterprise which runs all mega power
projects and which is executing TAS, said he would look into it
immediately and take necessary action.
Environment Support Group is now using this ``fraud'' in its
campaign against the project. The group's Leo Saldanha said the
report was ``managed'' to get a clearance from the Government. And
that the project involves the ``submergence of about 87 hectaresof
moist deciduous and evergreen forests in the Uttara Kannada district
in the Western Ghats.''
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