Only 13.92 hectares of forest land will be acquired for Yettinahole project: Rai

‘So far no work has started in the forest area’

Updated - September 15, 2015 05:39 am IST

Published - September 15, 2015 12:00 am IST - MANGALURU:

While supporting the Yettinahole diversion project, Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology B. Ramanath Rai said here on Monday that only 13.92 hectares of forest land in Sakleshpur taluk will be lost to the project.

“I am part of the government and I am bound by the decision on the project taken by the government,” Mr. Rai told reporters.

While being non-committal on the impact that the project will have on the Western Ghats following acquisition of forest land, Mr. Rai said: “So far, no work has started in the forest area.”

When pressed further, Mr. Rai said that forest land have been acquired for many development works earlier — for example for laying roads and widening roads. Forest land would have to be spared for the proposed tunnel project in the Shiradi Ghat also, he added.

Mr. Rai refused to comment on the report of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, that of 176 sq km catchment area of the Yettinahole, where eight weirs have been proposed to be built, 45 per cent comprised evergreen forests. The IISc report also said that only 0.85 tmcft of water would be available for diversion under the project. The Minister commented: “I can only say about acquisition of forest land.”

Mr. Rai said that the project was meant for providing water to arid regions of Kolar, Chickballapur and it had been passed in the Legislative Assembly.

“If the project fails to meet the expectations, all the governments and elected representatives should be held responsible. It is not just (the former Union Minister) M. Veerappa Moily, (Union Minister) D.V. Sadananda Gowda and myself,” he said.

On senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary’s statement asking Mr. Moily and Mr. Sadananad Gowda to seek an apology from the people for pushing Yettinahole project, Mr. Rai said that it was a personal statement of Mr. Poojary.

The statement of Forest Minister B. Ramanath Rai on Monday that only 13.92 hectares of forest land will be acquired for the Yettinahole project is contrary to the report by the State government to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest earlier.

In a letter to Chief Engineer, Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited, on March 28, 2013, a director in the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests quotes a letter of the State government as saying that 1,200 hectares of land was required for the project. “Of this, 50 per cent is forest land and the rest agriculture land,” the letter said. The letter exempts the State government from the provisions of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006 as the project relates to drinking water.

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