Karnataka submits detailed reply to Centre on Kalasa-Bhandura project

Seeks Forest Clearance again Goa govt in letters to MoEF had pointed out serious implications of project clearance


Wasting no time, the Karnataka government has submitted a detailed reply to clarification sought by the Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) into the Kalasa-Bhandura project.

The reply on January 14, 2023 consisting of information for Essential Details Sought (EDS) by the Centre comes less than 10 days after the Deputy Director General of Forests (Central) sought clarification.

In the reply letter, Karnataka has also reiterated its request for Forest Clearance, which is being vehemently opposed by Goa government. 

“Request you to convey Stage-I approval under Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act, 1980," reads an extract of the letter from Joint Secretary to Karnataka Government, Forest, Environment and Ecology Department.

Deputy Inspector General of Forest (Central) M K Shambhu, in a written communiqué to the Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka (Forest, Ecology & Environment Department) on January 5 sought copies of relevant documents pertaining to the current project.

“I have been repeatedly saying that Karnataka cannot carry out the project in contravention of the Wildlife Protection Act, and this project at Kalasa-Bhandura is close to the sanctuary. Karnataka also needs to submit permission of the Wildlife Warden to the ministry,” Advocate General Devidas Pangam said while speaking to The Goan. 

He revealed the Goa government had written to the MoEF&CC and related agencies, on at least three occasions, pointing out serious implications if DPR approval for the project is not revoked.

In the letter to Karnataka, the ministry stated that since the project area is close to Wildlife Sanctuaries/ Eco-Sensitive zone, specific recommendations and mitigation measures from Chief Wildlife Warden should be provided for examination of the matter. “It is seen that the proposal involves overhead transmission lines. In this regard, the possibility of laying underground transmission lines to minimise the requirement of forest land/ tree cutting may be explored,” reads the two-page letter, copy of which is in possession of The Goan. 

The Ministry has also cited Extant Guidelines wherein Compensatory Afforestation (CA) land has to be provided over an equivalent extent of non-forest land. “It is also seen that the proposed CA area is having encumbrance. Therefore, CA may be proposed on equivalent unencumbered extent of non-forest land and its details namely suitability certificate, CA scheme, map and KML file may be provided,” it further said. 

Karnataka plans to divert 33.0507 ha forest land in Survey Number 171A of Kanakumbi, Sy No. 63 of Parwada, Sy No 21, 38 of Bethane, Sy No. 101, 104, 15, 20 of Kalamani and other villages, Khanapur taluka in Belagavi district for construction of diversion weir, jack well-cum-pump house, electrical substation, pipeline and power line to utilise the Kalasa Nala drinking water to Hubli-Dharwad twin cities and surrounding areas. Goa has already suspected foul into Karnataka’s intention to utilise the water for drinking purpose only, arguing that the adjoining State is allegedly planning the diversion of water to expand its industrial and commercial hubs.

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