‘It lacked clarity and was not consistent with facts, figures and analytical methods’

“What does the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board have to do with a road project between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh,?” the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests asked the National Highway Authority of India and its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) consultant, Louis Berger Consulting Pvt. Ltd. while going through a proposal for the project.

The committee also found a number of issues with the EIA, Environment Management Plan (EMP) report. According to the EAC, the report lacked clarity and was not consistent with facts, figures and analytical methods.

The committee posed the question when a proposal for construction of a greenfield 6-lane highway project between Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh to Thatchur in Tamil Nadu came up for deliberations for environment clearance. The proposed project has a total length of 126.55 km and starts from the junction of the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru expressway near Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and ends at NH5 near Thatchur in Tiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu.

“At pages nos. 1-8 and 1-9, it is mentioned that Rajasthan Pollution Control Board is responsible for water, air and noise monitoring. However, this proposed alignment falls in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan Pollution Control Board has nothing to do with the proposed alignment,” the EAC said.

The EAC also asked the NHAI and the consultant as to whether they had used the classification of seasons as per the Indian Meteorological Department. “The nearest IMD station is in Vellore (upwind or downwind), that is 26 km from starting point of the proposed alignment. Why was the site-specific meteorological data not collected to prepare the EIA/EMP report?” the committee asked.

The committee also expressed dissatisfaction with details of the land use data, information about the forest ecosystem, clarity over the number of trees to be cut for the proposed project among others. The EAC said as per the submissions, land use data of Chittoor district was taken from the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for the year 2011-12. But the EIA/EMP report has to be prepared with the latest data and based on field data collected during ground- truthing. “Land use data of Tiruvallur district is taken from District Statistical handbook, Census of India, 2011. Further, land use data of study area (up to 10 km of proposed site) has been taken from old Survey of India Toposheet (period is not mentioned),” the EAC said.

It also asked why the Pallipattu Road (SH-106) near Kumarajapet village located in downwind side, was selected for modelling.

The EAC observed that the project proponent had also not submitted copies of certificates from the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu stating that no protected area or animal corridor are situated within the 10 km range of the proposed alignment.

Raising a number of other such issues with the proposal, the EAC asked the project proponent to revise the EIA/EMP report “by providing accurate data and analyses especially in respect of trees to be felled and air quality parameters,” and deferred the proposal.

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