At a recent meeting of the national board of wildlife (NBWL) on 25 April, the energetic ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) cleared as many as 40 projects in three hours. The rush has left some members of the board gasping and fuming, since most of them got just 24-72 hours to study project proposals running into hundreds of pages.
One of the projects is permission for setting up the 330-megawatt Dholpur gas-based combined cycle thermal power project (stage II) for drawing water from the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary at Dholpur, Rajasthan. The report had recommended that no new projects could be allowed to take water from Chambal as the present flow was inadequate and declining at the rate of 3 percent every year. After discussions, the committee accepted the study report and decided to recommend the proposal subject to the condition that no new projects on the Chambal would be considered by the committee in future. Incidentally, this river is home to the endangered Gharial species and the Gangetic dolphin.