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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Environmental Management at Project Formulation Stage

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A large number of disputes have been emerging out across the globe on the issues of modern development like location of industries, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and infrastructure projects in ecologically sensitive areas.

What is a Special Economic Zone? Well, a geographical region having economic laws more liberal than a country’s typical environmental laws is called as Special Economic Zone. This category covers a wide range of specific zones like Free Trade Zone (FTZ), Export Processing Zone (EPZ), Industrial Estates, Free Ports, and Urban Enterprise Zones etc.In People’s Republic of China the Central Government under Deng Xiaoping founded Special Economic Zones during the early 1980s.Shenzhen is the most successful Special Economic Zone in China which has been developed from a small village into a city with a population more than 10 million within a short period of two decades. Many countries of the world followed the example of China and started developing these zones at a fast speed.

The construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam in India has created similar disputes related to the issues of environment, development and displacement. Most of the disputes that emerge out of such developmental projects revolve around displacement and rehabilitation of the displaced families, environmental destructions, and long term impacts of the mega-projects on the environment.

Most of the disputes that emerge out around a mega-project are due to the lack of proper practices of Environmental Management that are required to be done at the Project- Formulation Stage. Some of these practices are introduced below-

1.       Assessment of the future impact of the projects: In case of Sardar Sarovar Dam, it is reported that the construction plan of the dam was cleared without a complete Environmental Impact Assessment.(EIA).The EIA in this case were needed to be done in view of a comprehensive study of the Seasonal Patterns.

2.       The long term impacts of a Mega-Project need to be studied before its implementation. These impacts may include the loss of biodiversity, extent of submergence, water logging, saline ingress and possible seismic disturbances.

3.       The crucial details of biodiversity, relevance, and ecological compatibility should be studied before planning for the project.

4.       Proper cost-benefit analysis should be done at the project-formulation stage.

5.       It should be ensured on the government level that politics should not overrule the environmental conditions.

6.       Proper relief and rehabilitation of families to be affected by the project should be planned and resources should be arranged before planning of such projects.

Sardar Sarovar - A dam on Narmada

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