G.K. Nair

Kochi, May 18

ABSENCE of proper mechanism for taking up the Centrally sponsored environment related projects might deprive the State of two important programmes.

The National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) under the Union Ministry Environment and Forests (MoEF) had included the Pampa river in its National River Conservation Programme (NRCP) while the Vembanad lake in the National Lake Conservation Programme (NLCP).

In the case of the former, the State had submitted a detailed project report, based on which the Centre had sanctioned around Rs 13 crore in early 2004 towards its share for implementing the first phase of the project. But the funds were not used during the last fiscal. Inclusion of the Pampa river in the NRCP was announced by the then Union Minister on June 15, 2001.

The State Government had submitted a detailed project report Pampa Action Plan on December 19, 2002 involving a total investment of Rs 319.70 crore. The Ministry had approved the first phase of the project costing Rs 18.45 crore and sanctioned its share of 70 per cent of the total cost.

The State has to bear the rest. More than a year had elapsed and nothing has happened so far to implement this project, as there is no agency to coordinate and implement it, Mr N.K. Sukumaran Nair, an environmental activist and General Secretary, Pampa Parikakshana Samithi, told Business Line.

He said the State Cabinet had decided in December last to constitute a Pampa River Basin Development Authority, but, unfortunately, no action had emanated so far on the setting up of the authority also. So, the Government could appoint a Special Officer to coordinate the implementation of the project with various departments involved, he said.

While this project had crossed the preliminary stage there has not been any initiative to prepare a project report on the Vembanad Backwaters conservation programme, which had been included in the NLCP of the Union Government in July 2003.

The decision was communicated to the State Government by the NRCD vide its letter dated July 4, 2003 in which the State Government was also requested to "take necessary action for submitting a detailed project report with firm costs for conservation of Vembanadu Backwaters along with the commitments to bear 30 per cent cost of the project and O&M costs".

Under the NLCP, projects for conservation and management of polluted lakes are taken up on 70:30 cost-sharing between Central and State governments as done in the case of river action plans. The cost of operation and maintenance after the implementation of the project is also borne by the State Government.

But, in the absence of a proper mechanism this environment-related project seems to have been shelved, he alleged.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 19, 2005)
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