Hassan: Green activist K.N. Somashekar has challenged the forest clearances granted by the ministry of forests and environment for the Yettinahole Integrated Drinking Water Project in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). He raised the alleged violation of the National Forest Policy and a deliberate attempt by the officials concerned not to go for a cost benefit analysis, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday in New Delhi.
The Yettinahole project is intended to supply water to parched areas of Tumakuru, Kolar, Ramanagar, and Chikkaballapur districts, among others in the east side of the state by diverting water from west-flowing streams in Sakleshpur of Hassan. The project has been given forest clearance in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, claimed Somashekar. His contention is that forest clearance was accorded by the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) of the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoEF) going against the National Forest Policy as the officials did not explore alternatives before granting clearance.
He argued that the REC had committed a blunder in giving clearance when any clearance for projects above five hectares in forest areas should be granted only by the Forest Advisory Committee of the Union government. Later, petitioner Somashekar told DC that though forest officials claim that permission to fell trees has been given only in 13.94 hectares of forest land in Sakleshpur, if surveyed properly, the forest land for the project would exceed this figure several times.
He asserted that the Cost Benefit Analysis which is mandatory for the project was not done by Visvesvaraya Jala Nigam Limited. The NGT has posted the hearing to Tuesday.