Google maps showing Arunachal Pradesh in China were used in an environment impact assessment (EIA) report an Indian PSU produced for a mega private sector dam.
The report - including the map - was hosted on the official website of the Union environment ministry and stayed there for more than a month until an NGO in Arunachal filed a police complaint on December 5. The ministry has not approved the project yet.
The blunder, allegedly in a hurry to clear a contentious 2,700-megawatt dam awarded to Jaypee Arunachal Power Limited (JAPL), surfaced around the time New Delhi and Beijing were at odds over Beijing issuing stapled visas to J&K residents and claiming Arunachal as its territory.
JAPL, a subsidiary of the Jaypee Group, last year entrusted the downstream impact assessment study for its Lower Siang Hydro Electric Project to Water and Power Consultant Services (Wapcos), a PSU under the Union water resources ministry.
The Wapcos report was put on the website to elicit public response, as is the practice.
"The environment ministry subsequently trashed the EIA, but New Delhi has to treat the Google map issue as more than a fiasco. It is treason of the highest order, besides being an insult to the people of our state," said Vijay Taram, spokesperson for the NGO Forum for Siang Dialogue (FSD) that filed the police complaint.
An environment ministry official, who did not want to be named, said such errors by consultants have become frequent and corrective measures are being taken.
"We have asked consultants to take accreditation from a government body," the official said.
The FSD has shot off letters to the President, Prime Minister and relevant Union ministries apart from local authorities seeking punitive action against those responsible.
Locals have also sought scrapping of the dam, which is expected to displace at least 5,000 tribals.
"We are looking into the pros and cons of the issue," said East Siang deputy commissioner Onit Panyang.