#India – Security projects ‘violate’ green laws as they start work in Karnataka


Agencies revealed the information about the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Defence Research and Development Organisation in the National Green Tribunal.

31 March 2013
www.dailymail.co.uk

 

Security projects ‘violate’ green laws as they start work in Karnataka

By Dinesh C Sharma UPDATED: 01:25 GMT, 30 March 2013

 

In the name of national security, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have ‘violated’ environmental laws by starting construction work on strategic projects in an ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka, an environmental lobby group has claimed. 

The BARC project is aimed at upgrading a classified ‘technology demonstration’ project involving the nuclear fuel cycle for both civilian and military use. 

The facility is designed to meet “future requirements of upgraded fuel for power sector as well as for other strategic purposes”, according to the nuke agency. 

The ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka

The ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka

The DRDO project will develop an aeronautical test range with dedicated airspace for testing of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). 

Norms violated

No environmental and forest clearances have been granted for the two projects which are coming up in Challakere taluk of Chitradurga district. 

The area in which the two projects are coming up has been classified as grasslands and district forests. 

WHATS IN THE PIPELINE

The projects are part of a cluster of scientific projects coming up in the region. Together these projects will need around 10,000 acres of land.

The two agencies have admitted that they have already spent close to Rs 100 crore on the initial developmental work on the projects in the past two years.

BARC said: “Major construction activities will be carried out only after necessary clearance from the ministry of environment and forests and the Karnataka Pollution Control Board”. 

On the other hand, DRDO claimed that no clearance is required as the test range is not a commercial airstrip and will not have a bunkering facility.

The agencies have been forced to reveal the information about the projects in the National Green Tribunal, where the projects have been challenged by Bangalore-based Environment Support Group. 

The tribunal has not stayed work on the projects but has appointed a two-member committee to inspect the sites. “The experts will make an inspection of the land in question as also the ecological and environmental status and also the activities undertaken by the proponent and file a report, which would assist the tribunal to decide on the controversy”, the order said. 

“Nuclear and defence agencies are invoking national security to cover up violation of environmental laws. None of the project proponents have complied with any of the mandatory environmental and forest clearance norms and standards”, Leo Saldanha, petitioner in the case, said. 

He said the ecologically precious land had been given to different agencies at a cheap price of Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per acre.

High value

Besides DRDO and BARC, other projects coming up in the cluster include a new campus of the Indian Institute of Science and the satellite centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation

The land allocated for the projects is the last remaining contiguous area of semi-arid grasslands ecosystem traditionally known as ‘Amrit Mahal Kaval’. 

It is critical to a variety of flora and fauna including the threatened antelope species, critically endangered birds like Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican. In addition, inhabitants from 60 villages in the vicinity depend on the grasslands for their livelihood. The Kaval area had been designated as ‘district forests’ for protection under the Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969. 

CONTESTED AREA

 

 

 

#Bangalore -DRDO sacks youth who got bail in terror module case


TNN | Mar 4, 2013, 06.11 AM IST

BANGALORE: Ejaz Ahmed Mirza, 25, who has been granted bail in the Bangalore terror module case, has been terminated from the Defence Research Development Organization where he worked as a junior research fellow.

Ejaz, who is likely to walk out of the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail on Monday morning, was among the 15 youths held by the Bangalore police in August-November 2012 for suspected terror activities. However, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe and charged only 11 of the 15 arrested. While two of the arrested youths were discharged, Ejaz was granted bail on Thursday.

Ejaz’s father, Rauf Abdul Mirza, confirmed the DRDO order and said he will be reaching Bangalore on Monday morning. “Yes, we received a termination letter from the DRDO dated February 12. However, my current priority is to get my son out on bail and further action will be decided once he is back. We have been told that he will be able to get back to DRDO and we hope it will be possible,” he said.

A DRDO spokesperson said: “He was not a DRDO employee, but was just a junior research fellow with one of the labs, and was taken in early 2012. It is a fellowship programme, and fellows are normally taken for a particular study, which is ongoing and they are encouraged to enroll for PhD etc, while they gain research experience with our labs. This is purely a temporary assignment.

“Based on the performance of a fellow, or when a particular study is completed, his fellowship can be terminated at any point of time by the local lab director. Or, he could get upgraded to a senior research fellow, but even that is not permanent employment with DRDO. The decision on a fellow is left purely to the lab director, and the ministry of defence and DRDO headquarters have no role at all,” the spokesperson added.

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