|Copycat dam study puts Ernst & Young in a spot
An environmental assessment study for an Indian dam project
has been found to be almost totally copied from a study for another
By NIRMAL GHOSH
NEW DELHI -- A small power project in south India may prove to be
a major embarrassment for the international consultancy firm Ernst
& Young and the investment-hungry state government of Karnataka.
Ernst & Young is under scrutiny from environmental groups
which have shown that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study
for an 18 billion rupee (S$666 million), 20 megawatt hydro-electric
project at Dandeli, which would destroy 87 hectares of prime
forests, was almost totally plagiarised from another such study in a
Sixty of the 65 pages from the EIA of the Tattihalla Augmentation
Scheme, a state government project, were reproduced verbatim in the
EIA for the Dandeli project.
An open letter from several prominent environmental groups
states: ""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 for a few minor differences, the villages, the
species, the climatalogical data, the water and soil analysis, the
sampling stations, are all absolutely the same.''
The letter is addressed to the state's Chief Minister, Mr S.M.
Krishna, and other key government officials in Bangalore and New
Ernst & Young bills itself as ""one of the largest
professional services firms in India with a strength of a thousand
dedicated people working from seven metro cities''.
The company responded to queries from the daily Indian Express by
saying the two projects were only 10 km apart and the mistake the
company may have made was not to attribute the data.
""The data may not be radically at variance with each other''
since the studies were done at a macro level, said Mr Sudipto Das,
director of environmental services at Ernst & Young.