Centre clarifies on Kalasa-Banduri project

Setting to rest the confusion over environmental clearance to the Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project, the Ministry of Environment and Forests on Tuesday informed the Karnataka government to take up the project after the gazette notification of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal’s award.

The explanation from MoEF Minister Prakash Javadekar came after Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had sought clarification from the Centre after Karnataka was informed that the environmental clearance given to the State by the MoEF was kept in abeyance last week. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa also said earlier that the State had sought a classificatory order from the Centre to clear confusion, while stating that he was open to holding talks with his Goa counterpart.

In a communiqué to Mr. Bommai, the Union Minister said: “Karnataka can start work on the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project after the gazette notification of the tribunal, and necessary forest and wildlife permission. I hope this will dispel all doubts.” He further clarified that the Union government has not kept in abeyance EIA notification 2006 and has also not kept in abeyance the rule, which clarifies that the drinking water project does not require environmental clearance.

Under pressure from Goa, which had opposed the environmental clearance given to Kalasa-Banduri in October this year, the MoEF had informed Karnataka of keeping the clearance in abeyance last week. Incidentally, both Goa and Karnataka have approached the Supreme Court against the tribunal’s award, and the matter is pending before court. “Until court decision, the tribunal award cannot be notified and unless tribunal award is notified, work on ground cannot be started.” Irrigation Department sources here said that according permission or keeping it in abeyance will have no sanctity since any permission to be made operational requires the gazette notification of the tribunal award.

State likely to approach SC

Karnataka is likely to approach the Supreme Court seeking interim directions for notification of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal’s award to enable it to take up the Kalasa-Banduri project. Meanwhile, a meeting of all senior officials concerned has been tentatively fixed on January 6 to discuss the current situation and way forward for the State on the Mahadayi issue.

A senior government functionary said that the State is contemplating approaching the Supreme Court without jeopardising the ongoing case. “If we get a favourable response from the court, we can start work which could be subject to the final order.” Stating that the MoEF has not gone back on the earlier letter, the government functionary said that the wildlife and forest clearances were in respect of what would be the project’s impact on the two and what alternative arrangement could be there. “While we seek the court’s interim order to notify the award, we will also start work on detailed project report on the project’s impact on wildlife and forest,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 7:58:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/centre-clarifies-on-kalasa-banduri-project/article30391288.ece

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