New Delhi, Jan 21, 2017: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for preparing an “incomplete and shoddy” report on the removal of trees for the Yettinahole project and its impact on the biodiversity of the Western Ghats.
Hearing petitions on the controversial drinking water project, the NGT’s principal bench, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, said the report wasn’t comprehensive as it didn’t throw light on the project’s impact on the environment.
Previously, the NGT had asked the ministry to form a team of officials from the Karnataka government and petitioners, and submit a report on the destruction of nature and cutting of trees at the project site in Sakleshpur taluk, Hassan district. The ministry submitted the report on Friday. The tribunal expressed surprise at the MoEF’s reply that it permitted the project without any proper study, and said the report was not acceptable to it.
This apart, the NGT castigated Karnataka for cutting trees for the project before carrying out the environmental impact assessment. It also demanded to know the steps taken by the government to afforest the region to compensate for the loss of green cover. That’s not all. The bench asked the state whether it had followed the suggestions given by the K Kasturirangan and Madhav Gadgil committees on Western Ghats before starting the project.
The counsel for Karnataka submitted that the government had asked the forest department to be ready with the saplings to be planted during the rainy season. The government has permission to cut down 15,000 trees, but has felled only 7,000 of them so far, the counsel stated. Prince Isaac, appearing for the petitioner, K N Somashekar, countered him, saying that 85,000 out of the four lakh trees marked for felling had been cut down.
The next hearing will take place on February 6.