• Shamsher singh

Gross issues found in controversial PUDA tender for the Mattewara industrial park,

Gross issues found in controversial PUDA tender for the Mattewara industrial park, suspected role of Punjab Government

The Punjab Urban Development Authority or PUDA, recently issued a tender notice requiring an environmental impact study for the proposed textile industrial park near Mattewara jungle. But as more details came to light regarding the tender to obtain the NOC (No Objection Certificate) for the environmental impact, suspicions were raised about the entire process. An Environmental Review or EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) is an important step to obtain the required NOC from the Punjab Pollution Control Board for setting up any industry in Punjab. But the Public Action Committee for Protection of Mattewara Forest and Sutlej found serious issues in the tenders issued by the Punjab Government to firms working in this regard. The problems observed in the Detailed Notice Inviting Tender (DNIT) are noted below: 1. The name of the Industrial Park as mentioned in the notice has been changed from PM-MITRA Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Park, Koom Kalan to 1000 Acre Modern Industrial Park Mixed Land Use Development at Koom Kalan District Ludhiana. 2. Page 103 of the notice in the section on location, map and technical points does not contain anything other than the title. This page does not contain basic information including the location, maps and names of the villages in the 1000 acre proposed area. With core details missing, does that mean the tenders are already fixed and the firms decided? 3. Page 28 and 29 of the notice issued for the EIA tender includes road construction equipment such as tar, mixer, hide, crane etc., items that are not required in an environmental impact assessment. This looks like a formality, copy-paste job with no real need for issuing a proper notice. 4. Page 49 of the notice warns of the dangers of nuclear fuel-waste and radio-contaminated explosives, which is ridiculous given there is no nuclear plant or anything similar that was constructed in the Mattewar area. 5. The contractor has been asked to set up a field lab for proper testing. While the EIA does not require any such lab. 6. It is mentioned on page 51 that if any historical object is found during this whole process, then PUDA will have the right over it. 7. On page 51 it is stated that the contractor winning the tender will be responsible for all the security arrangements including the flow of traffic. The committee has written a letter to the head of PUDA requesting him to stop the process of issuing the tender immediately. The letter specifically mentioned the errors in the tender notice.

Apart from this, many other things show that this tender is just a formality, while the government has already decided who the tender may be issued to. The most controversial aspect of the notice is that based on the report submitted by the tendering firm, the Punjab Pollution Control Board would pay 60 per cent to the firm after getting the NOC for the project. This is ridiculous since it makes clear that the purpose of the EIA is not to state the actual situation, but to get the NOC under any circumstances for which the amount is to be paid. The Public Action Committee fighting for protection of the Mattewara jungle has demanded that PUDA withdraw the tender immediately.