30th Aug 2018 THE HINDU Editorial Analysis ha ii
Challenges at BIMSTEC . The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in Kathmandu this week, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend, will be another milestone for India after the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit hosted by it in 2016 Two major factors have driven India's interests in the BIMSTEC forum. A key reason for India to reach out to its BIMSTEC neighbours has been the stagnation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This limited both the scope of India's growing economic aspirations as well as the role it could play in improving regional governance
e At the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, in 2014, India proposed the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement. However, this could not progress due to resistance from Pakistan. This compelled Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) to sign the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement in 2015 As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Kathmandu, regional integration in South Asia would go ahead "through SAARC or outside it, among all of us or some of us," keeping the doors open for those outside to join when they felt confortable to do so. Pakistan also opted out of the ambitious SAARC Satellite project proposed by India, leading to a change in its name to the South Asia Satellite o The main motivation for India to push BIMSTEC is not to isolate Pakistan; rather, it is in the country's interest to ensure that the region does not lag behind and that an unstable neighbourhood does not drag its growth.....
..India's desire to link South Asia to the economically dynamic Southeast Asia is also part of this strategy The rationale behind making the BIMSTEC mechanism work is to reassure South Asia that the region can work together to achieve common goals with India playing its due role India is currently the largest contributor to the BIMSTEC secretariat's budget. India's annual contribution was Rs.2 crore (or 32% of the total secretariat budget) for 2017-18. With the secretariat planning to strengthen its capacity by increasing human resources and the number of officials representing each member state, India may need to consider allocating more resources. India's generosity would be a key test of its commitment to the subregional grouping
Another issue would be for India to counter the impression that BIMSTEC is an India-dominated bloc, a problem that it faced for a long time in SAARC. In reality, the suspicion was mutual in SAARC-while India was wary of the smaller neighbours 'ganging up' against it, the smaller neighbours were worried that closer integration might lead to India's domination Another strategic challenge for India is that China has long desired to be part of the SAARC grouping. Some SAARC members also have their own interests in bringing China into the equation: they want it to balance India's dominance. China has observer status in SAARC. When this was given, it only increased the demand to make China a full member of SAARC e India will have to carefully navigate the emerging regional geopolitics, as..
....many of the elements that made SAARC hostage to political rivalry and turned it into a defunct mechanism can re-emerge in BIMSTEC
How not to da an environmenta assessmen The "redevelopment" projects of Delhi which have been in the news are caught up in legal tangles. In these, it is the ones related to their environmental approvals that stand out These projects have used the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to subvert the right of citizens to a better environment. A case in point is the approval process for the World Trade Centre" in Nauroji Nagar in south Delhi IA reports are a critical component of India's environmental
....decision-making process in that they are supposed to be a detailed study of the potential impacts of proposed projects. Based on these reports, the Environment Ministry or other relevant regulatory bodies may or may not grant approval to a project The EIA reports are also important to define measures that the project could take in order to contain or offset project impacts. To ensure that they are an accurate account of scientific facts and observations, the law mandates the engagement of an accredited independent EIA consultant to undertake the study . The consultant for the Nauroji Nagar project has used material from copyrighted papers, webpages and other EIA reports. It even mentions that the water quality study was undertaken in 2015, one year before the project was commissioned to NBCC. It cites eight water quality monitoring
....ocations for the study which are situated in Tamil Nadu This content can be traced back to the EIA report of Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd. which was prepared by the same consultant. Another example is the text under "Hydrogeology of PIA District" on page 42 of the EIA report. This is a carbon copy of material from a copyrighted book (2015) titled "Management of Water, Energy and Bio-resources in the Era of Climate Change: Emerging Issues and Challenges" There are many instances of missing or misleading information which understate the potential impact of these projects. For example, the EIA's Terms of Reference (ToR) for Nauroji Nagar, which is essentially a commercial project, fail to mention the word "commercial". Instead, it states that the project is for the "modernization" of government residential colonies
The NBCC's "World Trade Centre" that is proposed to be built at this site has been called "a commercial complex" by the ElA report. The ToR requires the ElA report to include a detailed traffic impact analysis, but this is missing. The report is also oblivious to the many archaeological and cultural heritage sites that will be affected by the construction. Other examples are: A "Table 3-20: List of animal species in the study area" on page 76 lists the names of trees, while common plankton has been listed as fish species on page 81 The ElA Notification 2006 says that "deliberate concealment and/or submission of false or misleading information or data..." can lead to a rejection of the application or cancellation of the approval. But it is unlikely that the Ministry will pursue this line against these projects as it would n stopping the project of the more powerful Ministry of Urban Development
...reduce or prevent tree felling. But this response is neither adequate nor legally acceptable
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