Government says 'no' to new mini hydel projects in Western Ghats

The State government has cancelled 10 mini-hydel projects in the Western Ghats that faced legal challenges and has decided not to permit any new plants in the region. This was informed to the High Court on Wednesday.

Following the State government’s submission, the High Court disposed of a PIL petition filed by Prashant G Yavagal and the Western Ghats Environment Forum against mini-hydel projects.

The submission was made by the State Forest Department and the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL). Satisfied by the action taken by the authorities, the division bench comprising acting Chief Justice K Sreedhar Rao and Justice abdul Nazeer disposed of the writ petitions.

However, regarding one mini hydel project, by Maruthi Power Gen Private Limited, the division bench granted liberty to approach the authorities with a fresh application. The same can be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests . 

As per the affidavit filed by the State government, three power projects - the Dandeli Mini Hydel Station (MHS) with 18 mega watt (MW) capacity at Dandeli across River Kali in Uttara Kannada district; the one at Kaneri and Supa Reservoir (4 MW) in Kumbarwada of Uttara Kannada taluk; the one at Nanniruhalla (3 MW) across Nanniruhalla stream of River Sharavathi in Uttara Kannada district have been cancelled by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL).

Apart from these, Kelasi MHS (5 MW) across River Bedti at Kelasi village in Uttara Kannada district has not been commissioned by KREDL for want of approval under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The Mavaling MHS (4 MW) across River Kali near Mavaling village of Joida taluk in Uttara Kannada district hit a roadblock as the proposal to conduct a survey has been turned down by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

Another project of the Dandeli MHS (12 MW) across River Kali has also been rejected by the State government, after the Union government informed the State that 75 hectares of forest will be submerged due to this project. 

As per the affidavit and details submitted to the High Court, four other projects across River Gangavalli (5 MW each) in Yellapur taluk have also been rejected for not obtaining forest clearance.

Plea disposed of

Accepting the submission of the State government that it has taken all measures to prevent the death of children by falling in dry borewells, the division bench comprising acting Chief Justice K Sreedhar Rao and Justice Abdul Nazeer, on Wednesday, disposed of a petition seeking compensation for the death of the children. 

Hearing a petition by K V Praveen, a Shimoga-based advocate, the bench disposed of the matter with the observation, “The government filed an affidavit stating that guidelines have been framed in respect to dry borewells and action taken to prevent the incidents. Further measures be taken to prevent accidents.”

The petitioner, citing an incident at Devaranimbaragi village of Bijapur district on August 31, 2009, where a boy fell into a borewell pit left open, the petitioner submitted that with such incidents increasing, the State and Union government are yet to take legal action against those who left the borewells open. 

Seeking to prosecute such persons, the petitioner submitted that the State’s inaction is a serious violation of Article 21 of the Constitution and sought compensation to the families of the victims. 

Notice to poll panel

The High Court has ordered notice to the State Election Commission in a petition filed by Padmanabha Prasanna Kumar, the founder president of Karnataka Janata Party challenging the order declaring B S Yeddyurappa as the president of the party.

According to the petitioner, the party executive committee has not elected Yeddyurappa as president. He claimed that Yeddyurappa and Dhananjay Kumar had forged his signature while filing an affidavit before the commissioner.

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