High Court stays UBP in forest areas

The High Court on Wednesday stayed work on the Upper Bhadra project taken up in the forested areas of the Bhadra tiger reserve without obtaining clearance from the Union government.

Hearing a petition filed by the State unit of Bharatiya Kissan Sangha and others, the Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice K Sreedhar Rao and Justice Abdul Nazeer has granted an interim stay on the construction within the forest area till necessary clearance can be obtained from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

During the hearing, the counsel for petitioner Jayna Kothari brought to the notice of the Bench that construction had begun in about 230 acres of the forest, which is a part of the Bhadra tiger reserve. Kothari revealed that work is being carried out at full swing. in this protected area.

Stating that a 500-km-long canal is being planned to meet the irrigation requirements of Kolar and Chitradurga, she said the taluks of Tarikere in Chikmagalur district were deprived of drinking water.

Reacting to it, the Bench demanded to know why the State was supplying water from such a long distance, while water from River Cauvery can be supplied to these areas.

Questioning whether such a project, which cannot even fulfil the water needs of local areas, was necessary, the Bench asked the State: “Why are you spending so much money. Do it for Chitradurga, which is nearby, but not to those far-off places. There are other viable options. Why do you want this? This is not correct. No wise man will accept this. Why don’t you supply water from Cauvery to Tumkur and other places? Anyway, you are already supplying water to places like Chikkanayakanahalli.”

“With such projects, you will create a regional imbalance,” the Bench added.
When the State government submitted that Rs 200 crore had been already spent on the project, Justice Rao said, “You are depriving the riparian rights by trying to take water to a distant place. How can you take water to a distance of 500 km? Such a design is not viable. You even have plans to divert Nethravathi to supply water. You also want to supply water from Mangalore to Kolar.

The Bench added that the people of Kunigal themselves have been opposed to such a project. “What should happen to the riparian rights?” the Bench asked.

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