NGT clears decks for Yettinahole project

Prime News, State, (Mangaluru), May 25:-National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday dismissed the petition challenging the Yettinahole drinking water project.

The bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel refused to set aside the sanction granted by authorities.

The bench, however, directed the state forest department and the ministry of environment and forests to monitor the project, and if any violation was found, to take appropriate action against the project proponent.

The petition had been filed by environmentalists K N Somashekar and H A Kishor Kumar who alleged that the Karnataka government had not obtained required permission from various statutory bodies before starting the work. They sought injunction restraining the government from proceeding with the work without conducting the scientific study of environment impact on the Western Ghats. They had also raised suspicions that though a drinking water project, the government may use it for irrigation as well.

Dismissing the plea, the bench said, “We feel that neither the appellant nor the original applicant had made out any case against the implementation of the project and set aside the sanction granted by the authorities for this project. So both the appeals as well as the original application lack merits and the same are liable to be dismissed,” the bench said.

The bench also noted that the ministry of environment and forest reserves had clarified that as it was a drinking water project, no environment clearance was required.

“Further while granting stage-1 as well as stage-2 approval, the central government has considered the report given by the principal chief conservator of forest, Karnataka and also the report submitted by the chief wildlife warden wherein they have categorically stated that it is not (falling) within the prohibited distance of any national geological park or any wildlife sanctuary so as to get clearance from the wildlife board as contended by the counsel for the appellant as well as the applicant,” the judgement read, adding, “the impact of the Western Ghats has been considered and only a minimum extent was permitted to be used for non-forest purpose which is required to meet the contingency of providing drinking water to the general public who are affected by the water scarcity.”

The tribunal also said that the documents produced by the applicant show that the government as well as the authorities have called for necessary documents wherever they required clarification and only after getting those clarifications and the documents that they have granted the approval.

“The notification relied on by the counsel for the appellant as well as the applicant issued in the year 2015 on the basis of Dr Kasturirangan Report on Western Ghats also didn’t prohibit the project regarding drinking water purpose and only certain categories of activities specified therein alone were prohibited,” the tribunal said.

Besides Justice Goel, Justices S P Wangdi and K Ramakrishnan were part of the bench.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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