Asks MoEF&CC whether it has received application for forest and environment clearance from Karnataka
PANJIM: Taking into the account that about 258 hectares of forest land will be diverted for the Kalsa-Bhandura project in Kankumbi, the Supreme Court said that the matter requires serious consideration by the Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Karnataka.
Addressing media persons on Thursday, Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan (MBA) president Nirmala Sawant said the Apex Court in its latest order directed MoEF&CC to file an affidavit indicating whether any application has been received from Karnataka for forest and environment clearance in relation to the project in the Western Ghats, and if so, the stage of consideration.
MBA had approached SC in 2007 challenging Karnataka’s project on environmental grounds and had pointed out that the project is been undertaken without obtaining an EC from MoEF&CC.
The Court, in its order, stated that the application by MBA is not at all concerned with the water dispute with regard to the Mhadei River pending before the Tribunal (Mhadei water dispute tribunal).
“We may note that the report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) is to the affect that about 258 hectares of forest land is to be diverted for the project. Therefore, the matter requires some serious consideration, both by the State of Karnataka and MoEF&CC,” the Court stated.
Karnataka has said that the project cost is less than Rs 100 crore, but the Abhiyan pointed out that it was worth over Rs 325crore and needed clearance from the MoEF&CC. Solicitor general of India Ranjit Kumar told the court that the project has not been given clearance by the ministry.
The matter has been listed for hearing on August 17, wherein both the authorities have to submit their affidavits.
Sawant pointed out that Karnataka informed the Court about almost completing the project, which MBA exposed during the hearing on August 3 through photographic proof.
In a fresh affidavit filed earlier this month, Karnataka reiterated that it will not utilise or divert the Mhadei waters without obtaining the necessary clearances.