Business as usual

the project design document (pdd) of a clean development mechanism (cdm) project of itc Limited has been put up on the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc) for comments from interested parties. Experts say the project is another example of cdm's criteria circumvented .

The project involves reforestation of tribal land in Andhra Pradesh's Khammam district. The land was used to raise eucalyptus plantations . Three ngos facilitated the process by forming self-help groups (shgs) of the tribals. itc provides planting stock and finance for the project and buys back the wood; proceeds are then given to shgs.

E xperts say the project cycle does not qualify for cdm benefits. "It seems that an existing activity is being converted to get cdm benefits,' says M Satyanarayana, co-director of the India-Canada Environment Facility, New Delhi, who is involved in cdm forestry projects. The project began in 2001 (as implied in the pdd). But it was only in 2005 that itc held consultation with local stakeholders to get ratified as a cdm project. Therefore, isn't this a business as usual project ?

Experts also doubt the use of Chinese methodology to get this project approved for cdm benefits. As per the methodology, trees should be planted on lands where there is no pre-existing activity like agriculture. But says N H Ravindranath, professor, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, "As far as I know itc plantations are on reasonable cropland.'

Besides, pdd is also silent about the benefit sharing mechanism among itc, shgs and the ngos. Question experts: "Who receives the cdm revenue and who will meet the transaction costs of project? Is itc gaining by being the project proponent?' Since the project commenced in 2001, it is assumed that such facts should have been part of the pdd.

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