Exclusive: Impact report for an Adani project raises eyebrows with ‘copy-paste’ content

The project is one of the three Adani power projects in Maharashtra's Western Ghats.

Credit : Indie Journal


Activists and experts studying the project and working with the project-affected locals have made serious allegations that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), carried out for Adani Group’s Tarali Pumped Storage Project (PSP) in Satara district of Maharashtra, is 'shoddy and full of inaccuracies'.

Activists found that some content in the report seemed to have been copy-pasted from other reports and demanded that the public hearing for the project, scheduled on March 12, be postponed. However, authorities did not heed to people’s demands and went ahead with the hearing anyway. The discrepancies in the EIA report for a project to be developed by the Adani Group, which is involved in several major energy and infrastructural projects across the country, raise serious questions on the credibility of the EIA process in the country.

“Before the public hearing, we were given the executive summary of the EIA report. Upon closely examining the same, we found part of the summary to have been evidently copied and pasted from some other EIA report,” says Shripad Dharmadhikary, policy researcher who has founded Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, a centre to research, monitor and analyse water and energy issues.

For instance, on page 3 of the report, the second paragraph of the project description, describing the Tarali Pumped Storage Project, says,  “It is a standalone scheme with two new off stream reservoirs and drawl of water from existing Pendekallu balancing reservoir for initial filling into the proposed lower reservoir through a pipeline arrangement.”


Screenshot of the EIA summary document


The reservoir mentioned above, Pendekallu balancing reservoir (italicised by Indie Journal above), is an irrigation project in the Ananthapuramu District in Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and is in no way connected to the Tarali PSP. The Tarali PSP will be drawing water from the existing Tarali Lake as its lower reservoir in Bamnewadi near Murud Village of Patan taluka, Satara district, as mentioned on page 1 of the same EIA report.

It is to be noted here that RS Envirolink Pvt Ltd, the agency that carried out the EIA for the Tarali Project, has been carrying out EIAs for several major projects in the country, including those developed by the Adani Group.

“This sentence is clearly copy-pasted from somewhere else, and that the sentence is out of place is also clear from the fact that it mentions the project as having ‘two new off stream reservoirs…’ whereas actually, one of the reservoirs to be used is the existing Tarali reservoir,” Dharmadhikary states.

There are more than one such instances in the report, which mention the name of a different reservoir or a river, not associated with the Tarali project in Maharashtra. For instance, on Page 18 of the EIA Summary, Pedda Vanka, a left tributary of Penneru River, has been mentioned, which is also situated in Andhra Pradesh.

A submission prepared by Dharmadhikary, along with other activists and experts, also points out other inaccuracies, inconsistencies and incomplete assessment in this EIA report.

“It is not just about copy-pasting of the content. We also found an inconsistency where two sentences in the same section, clearly contradicted each other,” Dharmadhikary adds.

He talks about the 'Land Requirement' section of the EIA summary on page 6 of the document.

The first paragraph of the section states at the beginning, “Entire land is non-forest land and diversion of forest land is not involved.” This would indicate that no forest land would have to be diverted for the entire project. However, the end of the second paragraph in the same section states, “The land submerged under the upper reservoir area entirely falls within the forest area.”


Screenshot of the EIA summary document


So, there is a clear doubt about whether the land is forest land or non-forest land.

“These two sentences contradict each other. And this is the one that we pointed out. There might be other instances in the entire summary, and who knows how many in the entire report that we cannot access yet, which might be contradictory or incorrect. And hence, we submitted to the Satara District Collector and the Government of Maharashtra, on March 6, that a public hearing cannot be held based on this report,” Dharmadhikary said.

Dr Bharat Patankar, co-founder of Shramik Mukti Dal, said, “Even on the day of the public hearing, we, along with the locals, made these submissions to the authorities present and asked them to postpone the public hearing. However, they did not listen to us. They heard our grievances and said that they would forward them ahead, to the ministry.”

When contacted about the inaccuracies via the contact number on Google, an official of RS Envirolink Pvt Ltd, the company that carried out the EIA, did admit that the report did has names and mentions that were not associated with the Tarali report. However, he simply said that 'this was just a draft report'.

“Yes, there are a few typos. But, for public hearings, we only submit a draft, not the final report. So even if there are any inconsistencies, they would be rectified in the final report,” the official said.

However, when pointed out that even if it is a draft report, the inaccuracies in the same still raise questions about the credibility of the EIA itself, the official just mentioned that the person concerned with the said EIA was being questioned and an investigation has been launched into the same.

“This is a typical response. Yes, it may be a typo, but then who knows how many typos are there in the summary? Thus, they need to withdraw it and put out a correct one and the public hearing has to be taken on the basis of that report. The public hearing cannot be held on the basis of a flawed report and they just say we will correct it,” Dharmadhikary said.



When asked about this, a senior official of the Pune Region of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), one of the entities responsible for the conduct of the public hearing, said that it is not upto the board to make decisions regarding the scheduling of the public hearings.

“We only conduct the hearings on behalf of the Ministry, or any other government agency that asks us to. Our job is merely to make all the arrangements for the people to gather and voice their suggestions and objections, note all of them down and then submit the detailed minutes to the Ministry. We also maintain a video recording of the hearing on a CD. However, we do not have the authority to postpone or re-schedule the hearing. We can do that if the Ministry instructs us to,” said the senior official.

Satara falls under the ambit of Pune region MPCB. MPCB, along with Satara District Magistrate, conducted the public hearing.

“The PSP is being developed by the Adani Group. So we are sure that it has support from the government. We know that they will get the approvals that they need. We are going to continue to raise the issue though,” Patankar says.

Tarali PSP is one of the three PSPs that Adani Green Energy Limited is developing in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, in Kolhapur, Satara and Pune districts. The PSP that has been proposed in the Kolhapur district is currently known to have faced a stay, however, the activists doubt that it will persist. The area where the Tarali PSP is being planned is an eco-sensitive region. Apart from the inaccuracies mentioned above, the activists say that the EIA of the region has not been carried out by the agency properly.

Apart from these inconsistencies and errors, the activists also pointed out that the EIA seemed largely incomplete in several aspects. The submissions made by the activists said that the EIA did not adhere to the Terms of References (ToRs) given by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC). “The EIA summary does not give any information about any alternatives sites that were examined. This is a violation of the ToR. Further, it has not done the impact assessment on fish diversity based on hydrological alteration at water drawing source,” the submission states.


It is required for the EIA practitioners to consider alternatives.


While carrying out the EIA, it is required for the EIA practitioners to consider alternatives on grounds that those sites have not been considered for whatever reason. But the EIA summary does not mention any such alternatives.

Further, Patankar also points out that the EIA has not examined the impact that the project can potentially have on the irrigation being provided by the lower reservoir (existing Tarali dam and project). The Tarali Project currently benefits areas in Satara, Solapur and Sangli districts.

“The amount of water to be reserved and maintained at the upper reservoir will be drawn from the lower Tarali dam itself. There is no assessment available determining if it would affect the area that Tarali project can irrigate. This can happen, and the EIA does not address it. We also fear that the water that comes down to the irrigation area might be polluted, but the EIA does not answer any of these doubts,” Patankar adds.

The project is planned in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats. The activists said that the EIA summary has also not addressed the possible impact that the project could have on the biodiversity of the region.

“The proposed site near Tarali reservoir is very close to the Koyna Wild Life Sanctuary. Also, the landscape is known for a unique habitat of lateritic plateaus, locally known as ‘Sada’. These rocky plateaus are ecologically very important and harbour unique flora and fauna and the project could lead to a habitat loss for them,” the activists said.



The submissions also add that though the area of the Tarali PSP is highly earthquake-prone the EIA has not seriously considered the likely impact of additional water impoundments/storages in the region and also other activities related to PSPs especially tunnelling and other infrastructure development.

The Koyna-Warna region, in the vicinity of which the project lies, faced a devastating earthquake on December 10, 1967 and ever since many earthquakes of differing intensities have been reported from the region.

Adding to this, Dharmadhikary further points out the necessity to look at such projects, not in isolation, but with respect to all the existing and proposed projects in a fragile area like that of the Western Ghats.

"The impact of the project has certainly been downplayed in this assessment. There are more such projects planned, not very far from the Tarali Project, which will also be developed by the Adani Group. Further, there are some projects by Tata. Some projects have been planned in the southern states as well. When we look at the impact of these projects, we need to take a cumulative approach, and not just focus on one project at a time, as they are doing right now," Dharmadhikary adds.

However, despite submitting all of these observations and objections about the EIA summary, the authorities still carried out the public hearing. This is known to be the case with many projects in the state, the most recent example of which is the public hearing for the deep draft port at Vadhavan in Dahanu taluka of Palghar district.


Also read: Vadhavan locals demand another public hearing, this time at project site


When the locals of Dahanu taluka demanded that the EIA summary be given to them in Marathi, instead of the English, they said that they were given a document that was translated from English to Marathi rather very poorly. They also demanded that the public hearing be postponed, or reheld, as it was held very far from the project site, their demands were not met and the project was approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

The activists have now planned a more expansive campaign against the EIA of the Tarali Project. "We will bring people together, we will continue to raise this issue," Patankar says.