Shri Ram College of Commerce welcomed its new batch of students in the orientation ceremony on Tuesday, 23rd of July. Thousands of freshers turned up looking awestruck and jittery. Like every year, the orientation was conducted in the college auditorium which was jam-packed with students, the parents not being allowed to enter the hall.
The programme was short and simple with teachers and principal on the podium introducing students to the college and telling them the do’s and don’ts of college life. “We found their speeches very inspiring and impactful and I can’t wait for the college to begin”, says Samantha, one of the freshers.
A short session was also conducted by the Delhi police about the metro line, making them familiar with it and telling them how they can commute. The students were then taken to their respective classes and given the SRCC handbook after which lunch was served to them and their parents.
“I love the college even more and I feel I belong here already, the sports complex is awesome!” adds an over excited fresher.
With the colleges finally reopening and the freshers looking forward to the orientation sessions, enthused and all pepped up, here’s the new buzz with all the information about the Foundation Courses that the University wants to fill you in with.
In the changes that seem to be toppling the world for some and making it a better place for others under the four year under graduate program, we will now have specially prepared Study Material for the foundation courses which will be launched in the coming weeks. Translations in Hindi of the same would also be available. The content allows the student to push himself/herself a step further to supplement the daily knowledge with tasks prescribed which are to be undertaken at home. Study Material for MIL and other languages are available at the concerned department.
For providing a better and a more innovative mode of learning, more than 1250 teachers have attended Orientation workshops at CPDHE, in order to adapt to the new pedagogy of participative learning. In order to get a hands on experience with the working of these modules, a master class for a batch of about 40 students was held on 16-17th July 2013 at which sample modules by eminent scholars were offered.
Finally, in what seems like a respite, the small corner behind your readers, prescribing some essential readings for all , which for most of us meant- the additional and failed task of trying to get them from somewhere and eventually not laying our hands on them, will not be a hassle anymore. The libraries in colleges and on campus will now be equipped with the same. Adding to these, Institute of Lifelong Learning will be periodically uploading online material for the foundation courses.
Adding to these series of changes, alternate foundation courses for ‘Mathematics’ and ‘Science’ have been designed for the Visually Impaired students.
For most of us, the first thing which comes to our mind in planning our four year stay in the capital is the budget. Even for those who already reside here, college is a huge turning point. What pesters us are the daily expenses because that is something within our domain. Since our parents are usually unaware of the daily requirements of a college student, we feel responsible for keeping our “pocket money” enough to sustain us and at the same time not act as a burden on our parents. Here is a quick look at how much college life and not education can cost you at Delhi University:
To begin with we must make our peace with the fact that studying out is expensive even if comfort isn’t our first priority. Most of the outstation students prefer privately owned PGs and hostels for that give them more freedom as also comfort. In North Campus, finding a high end PG which provides all the imaginable services is easy if you are ready to shell out 14000 to 20000 monthly. If you want to save up on this front then college hostels and even private PGs are available which will cost you maximum 10000 per month.
Travel and coaching classes
For students, travelling expenses are inevitable. Thanks to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited, you don’t need to spend an unreasonable amount for making a daily trip to your coaching centers or just “hanging out” with friends in cafes or movies, although I can’t promise you how much either movies or cafes or coaching centers might charge you. All you need is a metro card which is much more convenient than buying a token every time you travel, a 10% discount is an added benefit. Bus fares are fair with something between Rs. 5 -15 for Non-AC and Rs. 10-25 for an AC ride. One can also opt for an all route DTC pass that costs Rs. 100 for Non-A/C travel with student concession. For an all route A/C DTC pass, you might have to shell out Rs. 1000. (Also see: Delhi University Colleges Metro routes)
Talking about coaching classes, some of the “elite” centers do charge exorbitantly but then they are “necessary evil” and you’ll rather want to pay more now than repent later.
Food in either north or south campus is not an issue at all. College takes more than half of your day and naturally you can’t starve in that duration. There are uncountable food joints in and around the college campus which are not only delicious but also cheap. Bhel puri walas and Maggi stalls can be found in abundance, with the college canteen always being an option. If you care more about health then you can rely on fruits and juices as well.
On an average, with everything included you can expect to spend something between Rs. 100- 200 per day. If thinking about these expenses sends a chill down your spine, let me assure you that it’s not as bad as it sounds and you can always cut down on unnecessary expenditure. What you must care about now is enjoying these golden four years even if that means exceeding a little on your budget.
And so, much like everything else in India, we have now eventually landed up the FYUP! And instead of grumbling over what has been done, the ones who have slogged their way into DU need to focus on the brighter side now. First of all, you made it. Congratulations. That’s bright enough! Second of all, Delhi University is going to be everything you imagined. Okay not everything, but it’s going to be nothing less than four maddening, crazy and heartening years for you! But before you stop reading and start texting with anticipation and excitement, let us (your humble seniors) clear some of your misconceptions.
What to look out for:
Foundation Courses (For your Mind, Body and Soul- no I am not kidding): So for all those who don’t have an “integrated mind, body and heart”… DU comes to the rescue. DU will make sure your creativity (which is a congenial trait), life skills, language etc. are all taken care of. Yes, all this so that you become more ‘employable’. Ahem.
Jam Packed Social Calendar: Of the many things students will need to sacrifice this year, their social life is not one of them. With the new found freedom, the newbies can now go have a ball with their new found friends!
Better societies and awesomer fests: As ECA and sports activities are synonymous with marks now, fests and societies will get a boost and improve drastically. With the fucchas working even harder to prove their mettle, it’s safe to expect each college putting up a grand show!
College protests: As the hand of the ABVP and NSUI still looms large over DU, most freshers will be witness to their spectacularly conducted and overly dramatized protests. With political connections, there students will definitely try to bring the house down.
Busting Some Myths:
Ragging: Contrary to the common belief of – ‘Tu kyu kar rha hai? Fucche se karwa lenge!’ DU isn’t exactly a frame out of 3 idiots and you will definitely not have to perform crazy stunts or walk around pretending to be James Bond just because a senior told you to do so. With strict anti-ragging laws, your worst nightmare should be cranky teachers and definitely not your seniors!
The Ladies/ The Studs: For all those who stayed single to find their soul mates in DU, you’ll be waiting some more time. Contrary to popular beliefs, the girl’s colleges are not a pond of budding super models. And not all boys look like they were ripped off magazine covers. They too are humans, give them some credit for looking perfectly human and not like porcelain dolls.
Equality Among Colleges: Okay so you’ve probably been expecting this all the way, but suddenly your best friend from the other college will become ‘them’ and your newly found united college buddies will be ‘us’.
Completely Fudged up Timelines: If you had been cursing your friends, family, associates etc. for not being punctual all this time, you are about to experience a whole new level of procrastination. The University declares results exactly a month after its due date, if you’re lucky. Be glad that’s the only thing the university does. And if you have any other issues to sought with the administrative department, then god save you!
If you just got yourself enrolled in Delhi University successfully and are not from the capital, here is a warm welcome and a cherry flavored lollipop. We adore sweets.
For many of you, it probably might be the first time that you would leave behind your home and the familiarity of your school hallways and teachers, to be propelled into an unfamiliar territory without your mom to pack your lunch and kiss you goodbye and your dad to just somehow magically find solutions to all your problems, but no fear. College can be a time to reinvent yourself; you are no longer with people who knew you since you were in your nappies. There are new opportunities, new friendships to be made and new places to explore. But the hard part is to pack up your entire old life in a few boxes and try to adapt to a life where laundry just does not appear on your bed, washed and ironed. As an expert in the art of selecting what needs to go in that suitcase and what does not and to prepare oneself for a new life, here are a few tips:
Scout the territory As soon as you are assigned a room as a paying guest or are granted one in the college hostel, scout your space. Check the shelves and wardrobe allotted to you; ask for the number of people sharing that space. Do not forget to ask about the necessary items you need to bring, like mattress or utensils etc.
Segregate The very important thing about college, apart from the studies of course, is your clothes. Fashion aside; do not forget to pack a few basics: Denim jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, tank tops (much needed in the Delhi heat) and sunglasses. As much as you would love to transport your entire wardrobe into your small room in hostel which you would be sharing with another human being, we do not live in Harry Potter. So, segregate into daily wear, for outings, Party wear and whatever suits you’re fancy. I love my shoes, but space restricts me to not bring them all. Anyway, in college you will usually end up wearing two pair at the max daily and Delhi is not short of flea markets selling cheap footwear.
Learn to say no Your book collection might be your pride and joy, but it can live without you. During your term you are bound to amass a lot of books, so there is no need to pack up that Lord of the Ring series. Bring a few coveted copies which you absolutely can’t survive without. I cherish my copy of the perks of being a wallflower and to kill a mocking bird. Your teacher’s will recommend books, your library will invite you to borrow some and Delhi streets will tempt you to but that thrift copy. Don’t worry.
Also, no matter how much your mom loves you, tell her you are not going to reside a house and you do not need a toaster or a pack of plastic water bottles. You can live without them.
Learn about the city Delhi at first might seem daunting, with its maze of streets, but soon you will get used to it. Do check upon how you plan to travel to and fro from campus. If you have never used the metro, try it with someone who knows or yourself if you are up for the challenge.
Buy a city guide. There is no harm, it helps in many ways.
A few days before college starts, try and roam around the area, look for: nearest Metro station, Bus stop, Grocery stores, hospitals, Gym, ATMs, Stationary shop, Salon, Cafe, Restaurants etc. You can also ask your landlady about this or the students already residing there.
Campus Central The best way to learn about the campus is to move around with someone experienced, or two newbie’s will also do. Just scout and talk to various people you find but try not to sound too much like a fresher. Look up the library, canteen and various other facilities. Read up about the college and its history. Do go through the website once.
All in all, remember that you are probably moving in with people who are as clueless about the place and experience as you. It could be a new bonding experience, learning about the place and finding out cheap Chinese delivery restaurants, because trust me, you will need them. Also, remind your Mom that you are not moving into the Bermuda triangle, you can buy the detergent soap she forgot to pack.
Despite all apprehensions and oppositions from the student and teacher community alike, Delhi University has gone ahead to introduce the four-year programme from the academic session 2013-2014. (Entire admissions 2013 coverage here) Spread over four semesters, Delhi University will offer 11 foundation courses that newly admitted students will be taught. As per the claims made by the University, the main purpose behind these courses is to encourage holistic personality development of a student who is well grounded to the realities the Indian Society is dealing with and every student will be required to clear these 11 papers irrespective of his stream. The foundation courses include:
Language, Literature, and Creativity – I
Language, Literature, and Creativity – II (English)
Business, Entrepreneurship, and Management
Science and Life
Indian History and Culture
Building Mathematical Ability
Applied Language Course – (any one course).
Governance and Citizenship
Philosophy, Psychology, Communication and Life Skills
Geographic and Socio-Economic Diversity
Environment and Public Health
These foundation courses aim to increase the interaction of teachers and students and promote a congenial environment to increase a students understanding of what is happening in the world as well as create basic digital literacy.
Since these courses are being introduced for the first time, DU is doing everything to ensure the smooth implementation of these courses. Another round of confusion has been around the question of who will teach these foundation courses. DU has made one thing clear, these courses will be taught by current university faculty who will first be trained to conduct these classes.
So far, the CPDHE, the training unit for Delhi University teachers, has conducted workshops and orientation programmes for 756 teachers in 7 Foundation courses during the last six weeks. The idea is to equip them to teach these courses in a manner that yields some tangible benefits for their students. Theses courses also aim to discourage rote learning and facilitate a high level of understanding through presentations, discussions and interactive sessions. Every college has nominated their faculty members and only the teachers who have received prior training will be entrusted with the task of teaching these courses. Hence, apparently this will result in college faculty teaching school level courses.
In an effort to make sense out of this entire exercise, a lot of teachers have questioned the need to introduce these courses that they feel should have been taken care of at the school level and that they undermine the importance of the specialised stream a student has opted for. To add to their pointlessness, these courses also jeopardise valuable classroom time that could have been used to study the core subject in detail. For instance, a student studying Political Science will not be able to appreciate the complexities of ‘science and life’ or ‘information technology’.
Yet, all said and done, only time will tell what the introduction of the 4 year program does for our education system and the country at large.
Philosophy, the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, has been a core academic discipline for centuries to come now. With an increase in the percentage of young minds wanting to develop a thought process of their own and to learn how to do so, B.A (H) in Philosophy has become one of the most sought after courses in the University of Delhi. Available in most of DU’s most renowned colleges, like St. Stephens, Miranda House, Lady Shri Ram, Hindu etc., this course has seen a sudden hike in the number of takers. So here at DU Beat, we decided to analysis the changes made in this course with the advent of the new Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP).
Analysing the University’s undergraduate Philosophy course in particular, we can definitely see that the course has become more rigorous than its predecessor. The subjects introduced at a foundation level are ones unrelated to philosophy (with the exception of Philosophy, Psychology, Communication and Life Skills), but definitely help in understanding the subject better and help sharpen the student’s analytical skills. It also gives a subject like philosophy a more practical, hands-on approach; but alongside a core, theoretical subject like philosophy, it is deemed not required.
The Integrating Mind, Body and Heart course is a welcome addition as it is a core philosophical subject which aims at honing a student’s moralistic side. The applied courses include the likes of Aesthetics and Art Appreciation, Bio-ethics, Meditation and Today, Issues in Applied Ethics etc. These courses definitely help students understand the wide spread implication of a subject like this, but studying subjects like ‘Meditation’ and ‘Art appreciation’ makes the subject extremely stereotypical, and add fuel to the fire as students already question the vague nature of the subject. The winning factor of this new program is the emphasis on the understanding of concepts like Ethics, which people across on a daily basis in their student/work life.
The revelation that extra-curricular activities would now hold credit is one of great joy for most students, as in a University like that of Delhi; most students come with the hopes of indulging in their choice of activities along with their studies.
Freedom of Choice
While students will now be able to make an informed choice about exactly what honours degree they’d like to pursue, there has also been certain curtailing of free choice, with the eleven foundation courses being compulsory along with one applied language course.
Under the FYUP, the mid course exit points provided after two years and three years respectively may also prove to be the easier way out for some. Giving young 18-19 year old students an open choice as to leave in 2-3 years makes it difficult for them to make career choices in their formative years.
Also, a subject like philosophy needs time to be studied and understood, but with the option of quitting; there is going to be a major increase in the drop-out rates of our country, making this course a not so feasible option.
The new FYUP has definitely made a traditionally academic subject like philosophy more market-friendly as the terminology of having a ‘professional degree’ now makes it easier for arts students to land jobs immediately after their under-graduation. Also, the study of various other humanities subjects alongside those of science enables graduates in philosophy to choose from a wider plethora of career options.
The FYUP has definitely changed the course structure of philosophy for the better by making it more practical in nature, but it definitely has definitely lessened the value of this subject as a core academically taught program. The success of this course can only be judged after we see the increase or decrease in the number of takers for this subject.
The University of Delhi has always been innovating and experimenting with the courses it offers. This time, however, the change is even more radical and in spite of millions of speculations, protests and uncertainty the University has carried out its four year undergraduate plan, which on the face of it, seems entirely different from all previous attempts.
Almost all the courses are divided into Discipline course, Foundation course and Integrating Mind, Body and Heart course. B.Com (Hons) likewise has eight semesters altogether with first two years dedicated to Diploma, 3 years offers bachelor degree and fourth year bachelor with honours degree.
Difference in topics
The syllabus includes the commerce component business laws, financial accounting and auditing, business mathematics and statistics, human resource management and financial management in Discipline 1. While new papers like corporate governance and social responsibility, industrial law and foreign exchange management have been introduced, papers like indirect tax have been dropped.Discipline 2, which comprises six papers, includes setting up a business, marketing for beginners, financial reporting and analysis, personal tax planning, investing in stock market and insurance and risk management. However, the optional papers like financial market, institutions and financial services, compensation management, corporate tax planning and business data processing found no place in the new structure.
Diluted or Enriched
A section of teachers has alleged dilution of the B.Com (H) course as full-fledged papers on indirect tax (VAT and service tax) and international business have been dropped. However, the mix of different subjects in Foundation and Discipline course seems quite promising in giving a more intensive touch to Commerce as a whole.
Knowledge- Theory or practical
The four year course, definitely, has more practical side than the previous three year system. With subjects like Setting up a Business, Marketing for Beginners, Financial Reporting & Analysis, Personal Tax Planning, Investing in Stock Market, Insurance & Risk Management in discipline 2 the students are expected to have more exposure to actual business and market condition.
Work Load- swell up?
The first year has 11 foundation subjects which the students have to take. There is no other way out. Naturally the work load has increased. However, the pressure on students will fluctuate with every semester. In addition the Foundation course offers subjects like Science and Life which a commerce student might not be interested in, which in turn increases the work load.
Co- curricular activities
With increased workload and diverse subjects, focus on extracurricular activities will demand greater effort and time. The students might face difficulty in coping up with these. In the second, third and fourth year however, one cultural activity has been made compulsory.
Multiple exit points
Many professors feel that multiple exit points will encourage dropping out and actually lead to greater inequity among students. If a student leaves after two years, it will be of little help to him as far as employment is concerned. With multiple exit points it is unclear how students will be accommodated in other colleges outside Delhi.
Although the FYUP offers more choices and greater diversity, if we look closely, a student has little choice to make and most of foundation subjects might not prove to be worth it. However, if a student completes all the four year he/ she will have a better employment prospect. The study is in depth if we ignore the subjects which have been dropped.
With the onset of the summer vacations, probable activities that are worthwhile start lurking in one’s head. It was then that I came across a flier which read “King’s comes to you! King’s College London and Miranda House welcome you! Apply now!” And it certainly was one of those moments when I realized the perks of studying in a prestigious college like Miranda House and in the University of Delhi.
The King’s College London Summer School at Delhi was organized in collaboration with Miranda House, University of Delhi and Think Education, an educational organization which works to create opportunities for promising students worldwide. It was a high quality and intensive academic programme open to students from around the country. The session 1 was held from 4th June-14th June 2013, and the session 2 from 17th June – 28th June 2013. It was in the first session that I studied the spectacularly interesting subject of International Relations. The concept of a ‘summer school’ being a new one to the students of the University of Delhi was met with looks of apprehension; yet the KCL session saw around 80 students from various universities in attendance. Our tutor for this course was Dr. Diana Bozhilova, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Hellenic Studies at KCL, and also a dynamic lady with amazing knowledge in a subject which takes one years to study.
Being an absolute newcomer to the varying subjects of Political Science, Economics, Philosophy, Law and Sociology; most of us had trouble adjusting to the hefty curriculum, but the interactive approach and the alternating group activity plus lecture schedule made it all easily understandable and also enjoyable. We all breezed through heavy duty subjects like ‘global governance, international relations theory, the workings of the United Nations, historical origins of the European Union etc’. One afternoon we would make strategies to overcome problems in the European Parliament, whereas on another, build a clean city from scratch. We saw documentaries and videos ranging from sea piracy to that of a gender bias, which was definitely a wonderful break from the monotonous classroom sessions we all usually have to endure. The experience was one both mentally and emotionally enriching, as I made friends from places I never thought I would, with many of them here to stay. The summer school gave us an excuse to eat out, have fun, discuss theories over coffee and laugh over anecdotes recited by many of us.
The summer school not only taught me what the study of International Relations means, but also helped me decide what I would want to pursue later on in life. It helped me experience what it means to study in a foreign classroom, in a completely different setting and with a vast curriculum. Itreally helped broaden my horizons; while having fun. This summer school is one experience which I would never forget. Given a chance, I would definitely attend it again. I can proudly say that I returned with a greater sense of self after attending The King’s College London Summer School at Delhi.
As a child I was amused at the premonition of the Soothsayer when he predicted the Death of Julius Caesar, who out of sheer vanity not only discarded his advice, but also admonished him for the same. A similar analogy can be drawn to the travesty that now surrounds Uttarakhand, the sole exception being, the vanity and obliviousness of the Government has gravely pulverized the State Exchequer and costed the lives of its own denizens, as against the death of one ruler.
The wrath of nature is witnessed whenever the sensitive balance is tilted towards artificial usurpation of environment’s domain, in the guise of “development”. This archaic debate of “development” versus “conservation of nature” is not merely academic, for the very cataclysmic video footages, news feeds and print media have served as a testimony to nature’s retaliation for the acts done by our hands. The recent flash floods in Uttarakhand in almost all major tributaries of Ganga and Yamuna, particularly Bhagirathi, Alakhnanda and Mandakini have affected and shaken us.
The blame game, which is a necessary by product of every mishappening in our country, has already begun, where both the Central Government as well as the State Government are rebuking each other and their predecessors in chair for faulty policy making, ineffective implementation, absence of rescue and relief strategy, steaming constitutional debates on whether the present system should be governed under Entry 56 of the Union List or under Entry 17 of the Sate List, and the classic press release phrase “mis-governance”. What lies on the other hand of this scale is innumerable unreported deaths, devastation of public property, and over sixty thousand stranded people, who are yet to be afforded anything as remotely close to the term “relief”.
Genesis of the Problem and Observations made by the CAG Report
India boasts of being ranked sixth in terms of largest hydel power generation capacity countries. Domestically, hydel power accounts for 1/4th of India’s dependence on energy. The Hydel Power Report of Uttarakhand published in the year 2008, categorically acclaims that the State has the potential to harness almost 20,000 MW of electricity through hydel power. Blinded with such ambitious target, the State Government failed to notice, either deliberately or otherwise, the very first objective on the same page, which has been reproduced as: “To harness the environment friendly Renewable Energy resources and enhance their contribution to the socioeconomic development of the State.” Another important objective which the State while implementing the said project, was oblivious to, is “To enhance the use of energy sources that assist in mitigating environmental pollution.” The current policies, as the CAG Report categorically points out, are aimed at aggravating and not mitigating environmental pollution, and have been a cause of the floods in and around the region.
Periphrastically speaking, the ongoing havoc that was witnessed in Uttarakhand was preordained in the report published by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as late as in 2009, reproaching the Central Government and the Government of Uttarakhand for its dual role of faulty hydro power policy making as well as ineffective policy implementation. Some of the main concerns highlighted in the CAG Report are:
Due to the over ambitious policy of the State Government to create multiple river channels, and multiple power projects on the same tributary, a serious endangerment of environment is certainty. With over 42 Projects currently functioning, and 203 projects in construction and clearance stage, at every 6 – 7 kms stretch, there will be a dam to obstruct the flow of the river.
All the projects are based on high seismic areas in and around districts chamoli, rudra prayag, pithoragarh, Almora and despite severe earth quakes in 1720, 1803, 1991, and 1999 the multiplicity of hydro power projects, without adequate counter seismic measures continue to run rogue thereby causing serious risk to the lives of the people.
There is a clear enumeration of Flash Floods which would result in severe destruction to life and property in and around the low lying areas of the hills. Table Appended to the Report has further highlighted various instances wherein such flash floods have occurred previously in the same areas.
No evidence to suggest that for failure to comply with the conditions of Environmental Impact Assessment, a penalty was imposed on the builders.
Failure of the nodal agency to ensure submission of quarterly and half yearly compliance reports by the management.
Flagrant Negligence towards Environmental and Security Concerns.
The adverse impact on the ecology was further underscored by the fact that almost 4 out of 5 Power Projects have shown the complete drying up of river beds to a trickle resulting into severe impairment and devastation of the ecology, and imbalance in the water table resulting into drying up of natural aquifers in the nearby areas.
According to International Standards, the minimum discharge of river downstream should be maintained at 75 % so that the aquatic life remains intact. However, the present projects are discharging downstream river by 90 % and above which results into complete devastation of the aquatic life.
Faulty Pre-Feasibility Survey Reports, which gives inaccurate data for evaluation of the hydro power station, which means serious short comings in ascertaining whether the location to construct is feasible or not, questions on plant efficiency and what would be the impact of soil erosion, etc. remain in a state of serious jeopardy.
10. As much as 38 % of the total projects which have been granted an Environmental Clearance have failed to carry out mandatory plantation.
By – Passing The Law
As per the Gazette notification issued by the Central Government under Sections 2 and 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, the area surrounding the river Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, which is 135 kms stretch, was declared to be “eco sensitive area”. A total area of about 4179.59 sq km came under the eco-sensitive zone. This will impose restrictions on quarrying, commissioning hydropower projects on Bhagirathi, and construction of roads in the prohibited area. Besides, it will impose a ban on felling of trees and setting up of factories to manufacture furniture and other wooden items. For the purposes of effective implementation, the State Government, with the help of the local NGO’s and people was mandated to formulate a Zonal Master Plan surrounding the area, whereby every hydel power which is below 20 MW of Power Generation Capacity had to take a clearance from the State Ministry. However, the State Government opposed the said notification in May as they were not “consulted” before this policy was formulated; among concerns voiced by the citizens that an embargo on development would send them back to the Stone Age, which in reality was not what the notification envisaged. This mutual blame game and inter-ministerial trifles have led to such travesty. Today the very area surrounding Bhagirathi and parts of Uttarkashi are the worst hit areas of the State.
Travesty of Environmental Clearance
Another notification issued by the Central Government warrants deliberation. It was mandated that before sanctioning the projects, or before expanding or modernizing hitherto existing projects, it was obligatory to procure an Environmental Impact Assessment Clearance from the Central Government and the State Government. Every Hydel Power project was subjected to the same strictures as have been mandated under Section 3(1) and Section 3(2) (v) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Such an EIA has to be in conformity with the Standards laid down by the National Environment Policy, and the guidelines that have been made under Rule 5 of the Environment Protection Rules.
There are four stages before procuring an Environmental Clearance:
Screening wherein the projects are divided into two categories, those to be assessed by the Central Government (Category A Projects which are over and above 25 MW capacity power projects), and those to be assessed by the State Government (Under 25 MW Capacity Power Projects).
Scoping by which the Expert Committee determines on detailed concerns (current and probable) regarding Environmental Depletion or damage, at which stage the Committee is empowered to allow or reject the application seeking commencement of the project.
Public Consultation which provides for a public consultation held in the auspices of the site, obtain responses of all stake holders, villagers, etc. in writing and to be supervised by the State Pollution Control Board, but which specifically excludes “modernization of irrigation projects” out of its domain.
Appraisal which means the detailed scrutiny by the Expert Appraisal Committee or State Level Expert Appraisal Committee of the application and other documents like the Final EIA report, outcome of the public consultations including public hearing proceedings, submitted by the applicant to the regulatory authority concerned for grant of environmental clearance.
In addition to the aforementioned checks and balances, there is a periodic Post Environment Clearance monitoring which are to be submitted on a half yearly basis by the management. This provides a very rosy picture of the law that governs such clearances; however the reality is far from such notion. For instance, according to the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, as much as 38 % of the total industries and projects functioning in the area, and which have received a green signal to operate, have not complied with the mandatory plantation of trees in and around the site. This has resulted into serious deforestation in the hilly areas, which results into soil erosion. Himalayas being young fold mountains, have a very unstable soil compaction, as compared to other mountain ranges, because of which soil erosion can assume cataclysmic proportions, it is also the reason why rivers are changing their natural course and cutting deep crevices in the hills, wreaking havoc amongst those who stand in its way.
Are we to blame?
This is one perpetual question, which warrants a sordid introspection. Reports have also suggested that illegal construction of motels, rest houses, guest houses, hotels and restaurants have been made in the river bed, whereas a notification issued by the State Government clearly prohibits any illegal construction in or around 100 metres from the river bed. This is supplementary to the damage that has already been carried out by the Government. Media reports further stipulate that there was no effective functioning authority in the name of “State Disaster Management Authority”. The moot question that now faces us is whether this calamity was “natural” at all, or was it brought about by our own fallacies, inactions, deliberate obliviousness, and negligence. History is replete with instances of civilizations crashing under the might of Natural Forces, and with the present rate of depletion, the future of the Upper Gangetic Basin and the Himalayas hangs in a very delicate balance.
Nipun Saxena Student National Law University, Delhi