Experts seek mandatory EC for inland waterways

ITANAGAR, Jan 2: Over 50 experts and concerned citizens have written an open letter to Union Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) Dr Harsh Vardhan, urging him and the Ministry to make environmental clearance (EC) process mandatory and legally binding for inland waterways.
This is in context of the order of the National Green Tribunal in O.A. 487 of 2015, directing the MoEFCC to submit its opinion by 31st Jan, 2019 on whether EC in respect to inland waterways is required or not.
The Government of India has launched a massive programme to convert 111 rivers or river stretches of the country into national inland waterways, facilitating large scale, commercial navigation for the movement of large barges, container vessels and cruise ships.
The letter written by experts and concerned citizens urges the MoEFCC to make environmental clearance mandatory for waterways, and presents several reasons why this should be done.
The reasons include the huge environmental impacts of waterways as well as a recommendation of the MoEFCC’s own expert committee that waterways should be brought into the ambit of the environmental clearance regime.
The signatories who have endorsed the letter include senior water experts and river activists Manoj Misra, Himanshu Thakkar; scientists Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Nachiket Kelkar, Tarun Nair; former chairperson of Thermax Limited and supporter of river conservation movements Anu Aga; mass organisations from areas where waterways are planned like Mahanadi Banchao Jivika Banchao Aviyan, Odisha – Chhattisgarh, Shramik Kranti Sangathana , Raigad, Maharashtra, Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Maharashtra, Sajha Sanskriti Manch, Varanasi; national mass organisations and forums like National Alliance of People’s Movements, and Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, environmental researchers and activists Nityanand Jayraman, Kanchi Kohli, Shweta Narayan, Rohit Prajapati, Sarang Yadwadkar, Ashish Kothari; academic Amita Baviskar and many others.