Karnataka HC stays Byramangala Diversion Project

Karnataka HC stays Byramangala Diversion Project over change of Vrishabhavathi course

Vrishabhavathi River originates in Bengaluru and merges with Arkavathi. It's no more than a dirty drain now. Credit: DH Photo/Ranju P.

The High Court of Karnataka has formally stayed all further works on the Byramangala Diversion Project, which allegedly involves diverting the flow of Vrishabhavathi River. 

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty on Tuesday directed the Kaveri Neeravari Nigama Limited and the state government to stipulate whether they are willing to obtain expert opinion from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the central government, for the project. 

At the previous hearing, the court had directed the government to file an affidavit on oath by a senior officer that the ongoing work will not divert or change the course of Vrishabhavathi River. The court observed that the affidavit on oath clearly indicates that a channel has been sought to be built for diverting the water of the river. 

“As per the order passed by this court in another PIL, an expert agency like Neeri has been appointed to suggest measures for preventing pollution and for rejuvenation of Vrushabhavati river. In terms of the order passed in the PIL, there will have to be an integrated project for preventing pollution of river and rejuvenation of Vrushabhavati river,” the court said. The court said the government and its instruments should consult expert institutions such as Neeri before going ahead with the project, especially when the work has been delayed due to the pandemic. 

The court is hearing a PIL petition by nonprofit Bangalore Environment Trust and others for quashing the government order on the project. The petition also urged the court to direct the government to restore the area of the Byramangala reservoir to its status prior to the construction of the diversion weir.

The petitioners informed the court that the Rs 110-crore project — Construction of Diversion Weir and Channel for Byramangala Reservoir of Ramanagara Taluk’ (Byramangala Diversion Project) — intends to divert the flow of Vrishabhavathi in order to avoid its entry into Byramangala tank near Bidadi on the outskirts of Bengaluru.