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.