Just received KV's press release on "allegations" made by the MoEF.

Press Release
7 October, 2005

WHY IS THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS MISLEADING THE PUBLIC
REGARDING THE NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN?
(Response to the Press Statement issued by the Ministry of Environment and
Forests, on October 5, 2005)

We are dismayed at the misleading statement that the Ministry of
Environment and Forests (MoEF) has issued, in response to our release of
the report “Securing India’s Future: Final Technical Report of the
National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan”. In its official statement
issued on 5th October, MoEF has made the following points:

1.        A team of scientists that reviewed the “consultant” Kalpavriksh’s
report has “concluded that the report is for the major part scientifically
invalid”.
2.        MoEF has rejected the report and started the process of developing the
action plan afresh.
3.        Kalpavriksh was paid over Rs. 3 crores as consultancy fees.

We challenge each of these points, and demand that MoEF prove them, or
retract its statement. Here are the facts:

1.        The report “Securing India’s Future” submitted to the MoEF in late
2003, was not a Kalpavriksh report, but a report finalized by a Technical
and Policy Core Group appointed by the MoEF, and based on inputs from over
a hundred expert committees and individual experts, all of whom were
appointed by MoEF itself, and included most of the relevant technical and
scientific institutes of the Government of India.  These are all listed in
the report. Experts from Wildlife Institute of India, Bombay Natural
History Society, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History,
Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Indian Institute of
Science, a large number of university departments, and several state
Forest Departments were involved or have contributed. By rejecting the
report as “scientifically invalid”, MoEF is undermining the reputation of
some of India’s best biodiversity scientists.
2.        All earlier drafts of the report have been seen and commented on by the
MoEF; its officials have even gone over the drafts line by line and
changed what they felt was problematic. An earlier draft  which already
contained most of the data, analysis, and recommendations that are in the
final report, was prepared and circulated under the name of the MoEF. At
the final Steering Committee meeting of the project (January 2004), which
was chaired by the Secretary MoEF, it was accepted that the document could
be published as the “Final Technical Report” (this is in the Minutes of
the meeting). Subsequently, in February 2004, MoEF in writing even asked
Kalpavriksh to get the report formatted for publication. It is strange
that till this time the report was found to be acceptable, and suddenly
now MoEF is rejecting it as being “scientifically invalid”.
3.        We ask the MoEF to point to how the report is for the major part
“scientifically invalid”. We learn that a revised and what is reportedly
called final version of the report has been submitted by MoEF to the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); we demand that this version
be made public, so that people can compare the two and decide for
themselves how different the two reports are, from a scientific
perspective. In addition, the team of scientists who the MoEF commissioned
to review the report, should be asked to make public their findings. Our
own report is in the public domain for all to judge.
4.        The report submitted by us also takes into account, other than
scientific perspectives, the social, cultural, economic, and ethical
aspects of biodiversity, as also the perspectives and knowledge of
communities that deal with biodiversity on a day to day basis. This was
explicitly agreed to by MoEF itself when designing the NBSAP process. If
these parts of the report are termed as “scientifically invalid”, MoEF is
invalidating its own earlier commitment to looking at biodiversity from a
holistic perspective.
5.        It is shocking that MoEF is claiming it is starting the process of
developing the action plan “afresh”. Why has it then given in a final
report to UNDP? Is it now disowning even its own report? MoEF should also
now reveal how this new process is going to be carried out, and how the
public will be involved
6.        The statement about giving Kalpavriksh Rs. 3 crores is totally
incorrect and deliberately misleading.  As can be ascertained by looking
at the NBSAP accounts, easily available with UNDP or the administrative
agency BCIL, of the total budget of about Rs. 4 crores (US $1 million),
Kalpavriksh was given about Rs. 20 lakhs spread over 4 years, with 6
members involved full time in carrying out the country’s most extensive
environmental planning process ever. The rest of the money went to over
100 key partners (including several state government agencies, NGOs,
community groups, and individual experts, totaling about Rs. 2 crores), to
the administrative agency BCIL (a corporate agency set up by the
Government of India), to the Technical and Policy Core Group (through
BCIL), and other items (planning process, training, etc). Kalpavriksh
itself was instrumental in changing the original budget of the project, in
which MoEF and UNDP had earmarked almost a third of the total to a handful
of consultants, to one where the money was far more decentralized. A
detailed break-up of the accounts is available for the public to view. We
challenge MoEF to prove that Kalpavriksh was given Rs. 3 crores, or else
apologise and retract the statement.
7.        MoEF was in charge the process from the start to the end. If it is now
saying that the money spent was of no avail, it should ask itself what it
was doing in the four years that the process was on .a period in which it
was repeatedly and proudly claiming in international circles how unique
and consultative the process was?

Finally, we would stress that this statement from MoEF is only meant to
divert attention from the key issues we have raised, including:
1.        The substantive recommendations of the report, which include
fundamental changes in the way India’s natural resources are governed and
used. Nothing short of such changes are needed if we are serious about
saving India’s biodiversity, and with that the livelihoods of the majority
of our population.
2.        The fact that MoEF has kept the process  by which it is dealing with
this report, out of the public domain, for almost two years. Why this
secrecy?

If MoEF and the Government of India are serious about conserving India’s
biodiversity, they should rise above petty responses, and tell India’s
public what they are doing towards this goal.


P.V. Satheesh / Madhu Sarin / Seema Bhatt / Ashish Kothari / Kanchi Kohli
(On behalf of the Technical and Policy Core Group )

Contact: Kalpavriksh
134, Tower 10, Supreme Enclave, Mayur Vihar Phase 1, Delhi 110091; Phone:
011-22753714; email: [email protected]; [email protected]
No 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004; Phone: 020-
25675450, 020-25654239, Email: [email protected]
**********************************************************


Rajesh, thanks. have lost your post from ml, so am
posting on previous one.

---You wrote-----
Tagging on MoEF's press release on NBSAP with
Kalpavriksh misdeeds on Lalkhet suggests that since
Kalpavriksh erred on Lalkhet, it must have done so on
NBSAP. That kind of syllogism is illogical without
going into details of NBSAP. Enemy's enemy is not
always friend, just as legal is not always legitimate.
At the very least, MoEF needs to explain how it was
monitoring its technical consultant, what it was doing
for close to 2 years after completion of the report
and make its scientific committe's findings public.

From what I know, the NBSAP Committee included GoI

scientists and MoEF officials in their official
capacity. I would hazard a guess that this reaction by
MoEF is linked to Kalpavriksh questioning MoEF's
record of flawed EIAs and project clearances, and
MoEF's draft Environment Policy. For its Env Policy
draft and new EIA draft, MoEF has used consultants,
from my knowledge, very`market-friendly' ones.
--------------------

1. This cannot be about friends *or* enemies. MoEF &
KV are friends (KV did 3 cr job on NBdSAP) *and*
enemies (MoEF opposed Shekhar Singh on ABdP). KV is my
friend (I too bug MoEF re EIA) *and* enemy (Shekhar
singh & co SC matters messed up mpisg HC cases). MoEF
is my friend (wrote me a letter confirming IT Park has
no EIA, useful in my metroPD case) *and* enemy
(represented GoI on DUEIIP that pre-empted dmp2021,
was associated with USAID-sponsored MCD Act
amendments).

2. If it is illogical to comment on
National-Strategy-and-Action-Plan that Delhi-based KV
was paid 3cr to prescribe in context of subsequent
role of KV/shekhar singh in Aravali Bd last year, then
it is illogical to comment on all disconnect between
preaching and practicing. Legal is not always
legitimate but it is never open to anyone to presume
legitimacy about illegalities. Aravalli BD Park is
outside the legal boundary for Aravali ridge, while
GNCTD Mandi at Andheria Morh, Garden of 5 Senses, NGO
centre in Asola, etc, near-abouts are within it. KV
has been hassled about other EIA, etc, but what of
Aravali?  it views Aravali illegalities as legitimate
urban Bd and ABdPark as Noah arc to save Aravali Bd
from that great flood?

3. GNCTD has to do but is delaying ridge
re-delineation. GNCTD is empowering DJB with control
over ground water (and most Aravali ridge is CGWA
notified). GNCTD has issued Public notice for EIA,
including public hearings, but has not presented any
proposals to MoEF for clearance. KV has been bugging
MoEF, but has no issues with the ecoNGO friendly
GNCTD? If GNCTD-MoEF equation is not resolved on
Aravali Bd, despite shekhar singh personal involvement
in some quasi-judicial capacity, is it not logical to
doubt the KV input-ed National Bd Strategy and Action
Plan?

4. Delhi ridge (and riverbed) had rare advantage of
DMP and CGWA notification imperatives, but these did
not feature in national policy/strategy/plan debates.
Has the KV NBdSAP discourse (plus direct interventions
like ABdPark) not pre-empted a holistic strategy /
action plan in Delhi? Who has to answer for that? MoEF
is not responsible by statute and has opposed ABdPark
in CEC matter. DDA has repeatedly written to GNCTD.
High Court passed a landmark judgment in case of
Sultangarhi and the mpisg ridge area case also
survives. CEC (and media) helped KV/Shekar Singh & ors
after the mall-plots next to ABdPArk were auctioned
for 1100 cr and foundation-stone for ABdPark belatedly
laid by LG and 4 MPs including 3 ministers
(CEC/Shekhar Singh did not even allow us a hearing in
context of our HC matter). Who has to answer for that?
 I would say also KV.

5. On NBdSAP, MoEF needs to explain a lot more than
its press-note and what led to it. It needs to start
with explaining the need for a *national* strategy and
action plan when it is not sole national implementing
authority (and strategy and action planning are
implementation regimes not policy regimes). It needs
to explain how it KV came to be consultant for this by
global grant. those questioning WB interference in DJB
consultancy are prevented by friendship issues from
similar questioning about NBdSAP?

6. About the murky business of private consultancies
on national policy, etc, government and consultants
must both answer. Those who presume to be wiser than
government must answer even more.  I have no doubt
that govt-NGO joint ventures for public policy are
full of intrigue and not even remotely driven by need
for policy. The MoEF press-note is unusual admittance
of goof-up and, with the Aravali case, allows a
logical demand that MoEF ditch NBdSAP till it is able
to justify need and not award any further
policy-consultancies till full details of the 3 cr
mess-up are made public along with consultancy norms
for future. I would sign up if anyone makes this
logical demand, but I have the feeling that no one
will make it.

The ABdPark usurps DMP residential land that is enough
for the mandatory EWS plots that that slum families in
the area have been demanding here since 2000, and
since 2004 with specific reference to the site in view
of ABdPark, also as suggestion in response to DMP2021
Public Notice.  And, unlike the 3 cr endowment for
NBdSAP, it is not quite open to anyone to write-off
the damage in Lalkhet on account of ABdPark. As
chronicler, at least, i have cause to celebrate the
MoEF press-note, to remember Lalkhet and feel good
about the crumbs that fall my way when big guys fall
out. I have no cause to fret about details of their
petty fight over a so-called NBdSAP. And my interest
in the so-called NBdSAP is limited to the question (or
at least predicated upon the answer thereto): does not
the decision to re-do NBdSAP logically call for
re-doing Lalkhet?