Taking suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report that Karnataka proposes to construct a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Department of Water Resources, Central Water Commission, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu governments, among others.
A bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal, also formed a committee to submit a report on alleged violation of norms in the construction of a reservoir across the Cauvery river in the area.
The NGT passed this direction after the proposal was deferred by the Cauvery Water Management Authority twice in the past following strong opposition from the Tamil Nadu government citing the pendency of case before the Supreme Court.
The committee comprises of senior members from the Integrated Regional Office, MoEF, Bangalore, Cauvery Water Management Authority, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited and the Forest Department not below the rank of Additional Conservator of Forest, Karnataka.
The Bench directed the Committee to go into the question as to whether any construction activity as alleged in the newspaper report has been started without obtaining necessary clearance from the Forest Department as well as from the MoEF under the Forest Conservation Act as well as the EIA Notification, 2006.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Department of Forests, Karnataka, will be the nodal agency for co-ordination and for providing necessary logistics for this purpose, the NGT said.
The newspaper report has alleged that no sanction or necessary clearances have been obtained under the Forest Conservation Act and also under the EIA Notification, 2006 for this purpose.
If the project is implemented, it may have some impact on the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and nearby reserve forests, as large extent of land namely, 5,252.40 hectare is likely to be affected as submergence area.
According to the draft Terms of Reference of the proposal (2019), the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and Drinking Water Project involves construction of a balancing reservoir across Cauvery near Mekedatu in Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu Government had all along strongly opposed the project and approached the Apex Court alleging any dam proposal by upper riparian states in the Cauvery basin would deprive the state”s delta farmers of their rightful share of water.
Source : ILNS