Minutes of Meeting with World Bank-2nd September, 2015
A meeting was held with World Bank officials on 2 September, 2015. Representations: Jayanto Bandopadhyaya, Vimal Bhai, Prahlad Goenka, Bharat Jhunjhunwala, S Mazumder, Ramesh Mumukshu.
Information provided by WB
1 The project is in planning stage. Making of barrages is one option that is not ruled out.
2 Options under consideration are 1.5 m low draft vessels. A two stage system with larger vessels in lower reaches and shallow vessels in upper reaches is also under consideration.
3 IWAI will take incremental approach, that is, step by step sections will be dredged or engineered and stabilized before moving forward.
4 Terminals that do not have impact on river waters will be taken up immediately. (My info: IWAI has already signed MOU with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation for terminal at Varanasi).
5 GOI asked for assistance from Varanasi to Haldia. (But TORs are for Allahabad to Haldia). WB is silent on this discrepancy.
6 WB recognized that there exists a Pre-Feasibility Report but did not agree to provide it.
7 WB Time Line is studies to be completed by December 2015. Board approval of loan by May 2016.
8 WB says that as per their understanding there is no legal requirement in OPs or Indian Law for IWAI to take note of existence or non-use values.
9 There is no requirement in EIA Notification to take Environment Clearance for navigation projects. There is no requirement to take scoping clearance for doing EIA of a navigation project. Separate applications will be made to MOEF for components such as dredging that require EC.
10 All study reports will be disclosed on website. Public consultations will be done by consultants. There is no directive to IWAI to undertake public consultation after reports are made.
Plan of Action
It is clear from above that WB-IWAI are proceeding fast to implement the project. The proposal to make barrages is still on the go despite reported assurance of Nitin Gadkari in Parliament that these will not be made. In any event, the damage to Ganga by dredging and plying of large freight vessels will very much take place even if barrages are not made.
Representation to GOWB on Alternatives to Farakka Barrage
Hon’ble Shri Rajib Banerjee, Minister
Department of Irrigation and Waterways
Government of West Bengal
We wish to bring to your kind notice that the Farakka Barrage Project has imposed huge hardships to the people of the State.
Indeed, some benefits have been obtained. These include reduction of salinity, enabling of shipping, and improved drinking water supply to Kolkata. However, the negative impacts of erosion, loss of fisheries and increased cost of dredging are much greater.
Your Hon’ble self may therefore consider revisiting the issue of revival of Bhagirathi-Hooghly system de novo. The possibility of diverting water of the Ganga to the Bhagirathi by making a weir may be considered; and the possibility of developing a Deep Sea Port may be considered.
Compensation Application for Cumulative Losses to Biodiversity of Ganga and Losses to Livelihoods filed in NGT
GWIC, 17th January, 2015, New Delhi: A compensation application related to cumulative losses to biodiversity and livelihood of fishermen from abstraction of excessive amounts of water for irrigation and from alteration of Ganga by Farakka Barrage Project and hydropower companies was filed before the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi on 31st December, 2014 by a group of environmentalists and activists from across the river basin which includes noted environmentalists like Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, social activists like Shri Anil Prakash (Ganga Mukti Aandolan), Debadityo Sinha (Vindhya Bacahao Abhiyan), Om Dutt Singh (People's Union for Civil Liberties) and others who are working for conservation of River Ganga. The matter was listed before Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal headed by Justice Dr. P. Jyothimani on 16th January, 2015.
The bench has issued notice to the Respondents which include Inland Waterways Authorities of India, Kolkata Port Trust, Department of Irrigation of Government of UP, Farakka Barrage Project, and four Hydropower companies from Uttarakhand.
The applicants have sought compensation for drastic reduction of fish population after construction of Farakka Barrage, dredging activities for navigation, abstraction of water by barrages. Compensation is also sought for the loss of biodiversity, salinity intrusion and land erosion owing to reduced sediment delivery in Sundarban area; and for the loss of aesthetic and cultural value of the Ganga due to construction of barrages & dams that lead to break in flow of the river. Total compensation of Rs. 13,101 Crores per year is claimed from the respondents.