Hydel projects: HC seeks report

The High Court has directed the petitioners to file a report regarding the impact on wildlife, if one of the mini-hydel power projects is allowed to continue at Kencha­nk­umari and Yedakkumari reserve forests of the Western Ghats.

Hearing a petition by Prashanth Yavagal and Western Ghats Environmental Forum, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna continued the status quo order in connection with establishing the plant by the respondent power company - Maruthi Powergen Private Limited - and directed the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited to jointly conduct a spot inspection of the alleged deviation found by the MoEF authorities recently.

The Bench has also directed the power firm to furnish the clearance obtained by the company from the Railways in connection with the construction of the tunnel which passes under a railway line.

During the hearing, the petitioners submitted that the company was setting up two power plants of 48 megawatts with a single permission and that any project exceeding 25 megawatt requires a clearence from MoEF. The petitioners listed several violations by the company.

When the company stated that there is no wildlife in the forest, the petitioners said the report is by an individual - a forest officer. The petitioners submitted that the State Wildlife Board had found several rare endangered and endemic flora and fauna.

The Chief Justice questioned the government counsel about the number of conservators in the department and whether they are transferable. Counsel R G Kolle promised to communicate the matter to the State government.

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