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Green glare on police academy

An activist has moved an environment watchdog against the construction of the proposed Bihar Police Academy at Mora block near Rajgir in Nalanda district in alleged violation of green laws.

As the project site is located within 10km of aerial distance from the Pant Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajgir, it is mandatory to get a clearance either from the environment ministry or the state government prior to commencement of work. However, the Bihar Police Academy has not got the clearance till date and construction work is going on for nearly a year.

Taking cognisance of the alleged violation of the norms, Manish Kumar Tomar, an advocate-environmentalist, has shot off a letter to State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).

“During my recent visit to Rajgir, I came across the massive construction work that is being carried out for the Bihar Police Academy within 10km of aerial distance from the Pant Wildlife Sanctuary. I checked the official website of the forest department on the mandatory environmental clearance letter. But I was shocked to find that no such clearance has been given by the SEIAA,” he said.

“I have requested Bihar State Pollution Control Board and the SEIAA to issue necessary notice to the authorities concerned to stop any further construction at the project site and initiate penal actions,” Tomar added.

At present, the proposed police academy is under the consideration of the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) — the technical committee of SEIAA.

SEAC member Ashok Ghosh told The Telegraph: “The proposed Bihar Police Academy has not got any environmental clearance till date either from the Centre or the state government. The issue was raised at the last meeting of the SEAC in August 2012. We have recently received a complaint from a lawyer against the project. Accordingly, the committee feels that there should be a site inspection for verification of ground realities. The complaint would be discussed in detail in the next SEAC meeting on January 19.”

SEIAA officers admitted to the violation of environmental norms in construction of the proposed academy and attributed it to “loopholes in formulation of regulations by the state forests and environment department”.

SEIAA chairman Ramesh Chandra Sinha told The Telegraph: “An eco- sensitive zone is required to be made in a periphery of 10km around all wildlife sanctuaries. But the forest department has not notified any such eco-sensitive zones till date. If the department had notified the eco-sensitive zones, then the project would have to be cleared by the Union environment and forest ministry prior to commencement of works.”

He added: “We have asked the police academy authorities to give a requisite certificate stating that the project is not affecting the eco- sensitive zone and Pant Wildlife Sanctuary. In case they fail to do so, then we would forward the case to the Centre.”

Krishna Choudhary, the additional director-general-cum-director of the proposed police academy, said: “I would not be able to comment on the issue, as the matters related to civil construction come under the purview of Bihar Police Building Construction Corporation. We are just looking after the design and architectural aspects.”

The project site for the proposed Bihar Police Academy is sprawling over an area of 133 acres, located 103km off Patna. There are plans to construct an auditorium, a large conference room, a firing range of 300m, three lakes and a swimming pool among other facilities in the academy. It would also offer specialised courses of three, nine and 12 months’ durations on intelligence collection, flood relief, canine school and jungle warfare. Altogether 1,400 sub-inspectors, 1,800 deputy superintendents of police and 200 subordinate employees would be trained once the academy starts functioning.


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