Friday, February 26, 2010
TERI green mission has a golf course
I find this absolutely obscene. And this guy get the Nobel Prize for environment. And his TERI associate is part of the Government's team which advocates the 'per capita theory' for the CO2 emissions.
It is too easy to make it that it is 'poor' vs 'rich' like in the cartoon. Who is 'rich'? Who is 'poor'? One point is sure TERI is not poor. Ratan Tata should asked TERI to withdraw the name of 'Tata' from TERI. Their behaviour is such an insult to Jamshedji or JRD!
TERI green mission has a golf course
Faizan Haider Gurgaon,
February 20, 2010
The Energy Research Institute (TERI) is in the thick of another building storm.
The R. K. Pachauri-led not-for-profit organisation's mission is to "work towards global sustainable development, creating innovative solutions for a better tomorrow". However, contrary to its public message, it runs a water guzzling nine-hole golf course in Gual Pahari in Gurgaon built on institutional land thus affecting the city's vulnerable groundwater table and to boot, charges Rs 25,000 as membership fee, something that is considered illegal on institutional land.
Pachauri is also the head of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, a Nobel Prize-winning organisation that has faced flak from all quarters in the last three months due to dubious research being presented as part of its climate change report submitted to the United Nations. As the IPCC chief he has been asking governments around the world to cut down on carbon emissions and save water, among other things, to sustain the environment.
In Gurgaon, though, TERI's is a completely different story. Here, it runs a five-acre golf course as part of the 69 acres of institutional land it acquired from Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) in 1985 to build a residential training facility for executives called Retreat. Work on the golf course began in 2005.
According to Gurgaon's district town planner Vijender Singh Rana, commercial activity through sports on institutional land is illegal. "HUDA gave this land to TERI for institutional or public and semipublic purpose," Rana said. "Though they have asked for change of land use (CLU) regularly from HUDA, permission cannot be given for any sporting activity. If TERI is selling golf course memberships, it is wrong." Rana said the conditions for use of institutional land were clear.
"If TERI uses it for its own purpose, there is no problem. But it cannot use it commercially and sell golf memberships," he said.
A TERI spokesperson denied it was making commercial use of the course. However, when MAIL TODAY anonymously contacted the course officials, they offered memberships for Rs 25,000.
According to Rajiv Chhibber, manager, corporate communications, TERI, "The recreation facilities at the Retreat were created for TERI employees and visiting scientists, researchers and champions of sustainable development. "The greens have been laid on land in accordance with the zoning plan and around existing natural contours of land. In doing so, TERI has developed and maintained the green cover which has been a part of the overall environmental plan of the campus." But not everyone is satisfied.
According to a Centre for Science and Environment official, maintaining a golf course puts tremendous pressure on the local environment. "The pesticides used to keep the grass green pollute the groundwater and affect nearby water bodies too," he said on condition of anonymity. "Golf courses use fresh water, which is a huge wastage when the groundwater level is already declining."
Experts say an 18-hole golf course can consume up to 1.77 lakh cubic feet of water per day which equals 4.8 million litres. "This amount can sustain 20,000 Indian households," said Jyoti Sharma, president, FORCE, an NGO that works for water conservation. "Such golf courses extract groundwater and have bore wells near the ground. The grass soaks more water due to the pesticides used to maintain the ground's bounce."
According to the WorldWatch Institute, a think tank that monitors global environmental trends, golf courses in the US alone consume 4 billion gallons of water every year (one gallon equals 3.785 litres) to maintain more than 1.7 million acres of golf greens.
Although the TERI golf course is only a nine-hole one, there is seemingly tremendous demand for its membership. Mohinder Singh, an official at the course, told MAIL TODAY over the phone that the wait time at the club is of one year. "Your form will come for review after a year," he said. Singh was unaware that MAIL TODAY was investigating for a story as the call was made by this correspondent posing as a potential club member.
According to the CSE official, "A lot of water is needed especially in Delhi and surrounding areas to maintain the right amount of moisture in a golf course. At the time when groundwater levels are declining for various reasons, the waste of water in golf courses can be avoided." For Gurgaon, the situation is exacerbated because the city is completely dependent on groundwater for survival. Hydrologist S.K. Sherawat said that though golf courses are not the only reason for the city's declining groundwater table, it is a contributor. TERI's Chhibber said the institute is taking great care that the environment is not adversely affected. "The Retreat is managed in a way where nature is continuously preserved," he said.
"No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used on the campus. Water conservation measures on the campus include an efficient central rainwater harvesting system in accordance with water conservation guidelines such as drip water irrigation, early morning and late evening half circle sprinkling to minimise water evaporation and loss. The water table at present is just 50 ft below the surface which is far higher than many areas in the NCR, where the groundwater levels range between 150 ft to 200 ft."
However, according to a recent report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), the groundwater table of Gurgaon has crossed 40 m (120 ft), which it says is an alarming trend. The CGWB report said the long term water trend shows a rate of decline of 0.8 m/year.