Tribunal halts work on Amrit Mahal Kaval land

August 22, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 05:37 am IST - CHENNAI:

The ongoing construction of the country’s lone aeronautic testing range of the DRDO in Chitradurga district in Karnataka was on Wednesday put on hold by the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) here.

The reason adduced by the Bench was that the project proponents did not get the necessary clearance from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

The ongoing projects of the IISc., ISRO, and BARC will also come to a standstill until they obtain “consent to establish” from the KSPCB.

The tribunal, comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and expert member R. Nagendran, granted an interim order halting all construction on Amrit Mahal Kaval (traditional grazing land) at Challakere (Chitradurga district) on applications filed by Leo F. Saldanha, environmental activist, and the Environment Support Group represented by trustee Arthur Pereira. The applicants had filed the applications last February.

However, the tribunal directed the KSPCB to process their applications and pass orders in accordance with the law within two weeks after conducting an inquiry.

The activists alleged that around 10,000 acres were converted for industrial purposes. The activists also alleged that in violation of norms, the land had been transferred by the State government to the DRDO, IISc., ISRO and BARC. When the matter came up hearing before the tribunal, Udaya Holla, senior counsel for DRDO, vehemently argued that no interim order be passed. He said the project did not require clearance from the KSPCB as clarified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). After perusing the documents, the tribunal found that the project proponents, including the DRDO, had applied to the KSPCB for “consent to establish” when the matter was pending before it. The tribunal said that it was not proper for the project proponents to proceed with construction before clearance was obtained. The tribunal posted the matter for final hearing to September 17.

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