TERI sits on decision regarding dubious award to NHPC: Press release

An article on the objection to TERI Corporate Awards for Environmental Excellence given to NHPC

The TERI Corporate Awards for Environmental Excellence is an Award given in recognition of corporate leadership efforts towards environmental management and sustainable initiatives. The objective is to encourage and provide momentum to innovative environmental initiatives. This year the award was given to National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC)in recognition for its contribution towards the environment. But a number of persons and organisations, including Senior Supreme Court lawyer Shri Prashant Bhushan (Ph: 09811164068) and a detailed study by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP) a letter objecting the award to NHPC was sent to the jury of TERI.

According to SANDRP, NHPC did not desreve the award considering the abysmal track record of the company on social & environmental issues. The letter, objecting to the award to NHPC was written only after a detailed study of the NHPC performance in URI hydropower project that was mentioned in the award citation and also the case study prepared by NHPC and TERI on this issue, as also other official documents, including a review of the assessment done by the Swedish International Development Agency, which provided funds for the projects.

If you like to get a copy of the letter we wrote to TERI jury. Concerned TERI persons are: Mr RK Narang:  91-11-24682100, 41504900 x:2455; Prateek Ghosh: x:2520; M: +91 9810259265.

TERI weblink regarding the awards 

NHPC web-link on the award

NHPC company secretary contact no: 0129-2278421

On the world environment day this year (i.e. June 5, 2009), in a well publicized event, the President of India conferred the TERI awards to various winners for environment excellence and corporate social responsibility. In presence of India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, the Jury of the awards headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma and TERI Director General Dr R K Pachauri, NHPC received the first prize for category III (companies with annual turnover above Rs 1000 crores). The award was supposed to be given for the “NHPC’s case study entitled Post Construction Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study of 480 MW Uri Power Station in Jammu and Kashmir.”
 
Subsequent to our letter, we have learnt that the jury panel met and examined the response from TERI and from NHPC to the issues raised in the letter. It appears that the Jury panel may have decided to reconsider the decision to give the award to NHPC. Sources within TERI tell us that the jury also expressed unhappiness at the inappropriate way the NHPC had used the award in public domain. It may be recalled that in the advertisements leading to the NHPC’s issue of Initial Public Offer, the company had used this award to in misleading way to give the wrong impression that the company has been awarded for its overall excellence in environment protection.
 
Unfortunately there is no public statement from TERI on this issue so far. TERI has not yet (till Oct 1, 2009) responded to our letter (dated Aug 17, 2009) to them, except acknowledging (on Aug 21, 2009) receipt of the letter and promising detailed examination.
 
We see that not only NHPC has provided misleading picture to claim the award, but it is guilty of bringing disrepute to the jury panel and the award. Since the President of India conferred this award, NHPC is also guilty of dragging that high office and all those involved in the award ceremony into controversy. Similarly, TERI is also guilty of not doing adequate due diligence and misleading the jury panel. In fact the TERI case study of NHPC put up on its website shows how shoddy work TERI did even in understanding the timing, relevance and details of the various claims made by NHPC and TERI staff seems to have unquestionably accepted all the claims of NHPC. There is also the issue of conflict of interest, since TERI has received over Rs 1 crore of funding from NHPC in recent years. This conflict of interest is not relevant to the independent jury members, but it is certainly relevant in the context of the TERI persons sitting on Jury Panel and also the TERI persons doing due diligence. However, as we write this, TERI has not yet removed NHPC’s name from the list of award winners on its website, we hope TERI will do that soon.
 
Since the matter is of significant public interest, and the matter was raised by us a month and half ago, it is important the TERI make a clear public statement immediately on this issue, clarifying the status of the dubious Award given to NHPC.

For more Information please contact:

Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com, Ph: 01127484655/ 09968242798)
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)

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