The controversial Jakhu Aerial Ropeway Project has run into trouble again with the Union Ministry of Forests taking cognisance of a complaint that the project proponent M/s Jagson International Limited had misrepresented facts while seeking exemption from environment clearance.

After examining the point raised in the complaint, the ministry has concluded that the project proponents had misled it by providing a non-valid forest clearance of 1992 in spite of the fact that they had submitted the case for a fresh forest clearance. The company furnished wrong information and concealed facts to mislead the ministry.

It further observed that as per the documents provided by the Chandigarh regional office, the project would need environment clearance as the ropeway projects were covered under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006.

The director of the division had on October 24 informed the Director (Vigilance) of the ministry about these facts and said action be initiated under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act and for the violation of the EIA Notification, 2006, and the company be asked to obtain environment clearance as required under the notification.

As per sub-rule (3) of rule 5 under the Environment Protection Act, environmental clearance is mandatory for all ropeway projects that figure in category “B” of the schedule. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority is competent to grant clearance for the projects placed in category “B” in general. However, if the project is in the vicinity of a protected wildlife area, the case goes to the central authority.

Under the laid down process, an environment impact assessment (EIA) report is prepared to bring out potential environmental impacts. On its basis, a public hearing is conducted to address the concerns of the local people while framing the environment management plan (EMP). A public hearing is conducted under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner concerned or his nominee but not less than the rank of Additional District Magistrate. Necessary restrictions are imposed in the EMP to ensure that the project is implemented without damaging the environment or harming the interests of the local people. In this case, no such exercise was carried out.

Article is taken from TheTribune online edition

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