PANJIM: In a clear boost to what should have been Goa's main point of counterattack all along, the Union Environment Ministry has expressed its concern over Karnataka’s proposed Kalasa-Bandura drinking water project. The Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change has stated that the area is close to wildlife sanctuaries and falls within the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
Speaking to reporters Goa Advocate General Devidas Pangam said that the MoEF has written to Karnataka seeking clarification on their project. “They have pointed out that the project area falls within an eco-sensitive zone. This is a positive step by MoEF,” he said.
“We had written to MoEF pointing out that permission cannot be granted to the projects as it will affect the wildlife. And also as per Wild Life Protection Act, the flow of water from wildlife cannot be diverted for any other purpose,” the AG added.
Pangam said that Karnataka has also made a statement before the Supreme Court that they will not undertake any construction till the Court decides on the matter.
In a communication to the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Karnataka, on January 5, Deputy Inspector General of Forests (Central) M K Shambhu also pointed out that the Karnataka Principal Chief Conservator of Forest accepted the Forest Clearance proposal (for the drinking water project) ‘instantly’ on July 1, 2022.
The Ministry has said that since the project area is close to Wildlife Sanctuaries/Eco-Sensitive Zone, specific recommendations and mitigation measures from Chief Wildlife Warden may be provided.
The MoEF&CC has in turn asked for Karnataka to provide alternate diversion of forest land routes where the requirement is minimum “since the earlier proposal seems to be of a different magnitude and cannot be construed as a comparable alternative”.
The Ministry also said, “It is seen that the proposal involves overhead transmission lines. In this regard, the possibility of laying underground transmission lines to minimise the requirement of forest land/tree cutting may be explored.”