Mangaluru, Nov 20, 2015: With legal hurdles hanging afire, Yettinahole Integrated drinking water project, one of the flagship projects of Congress government designed to quench the thirst of nearly 7 million people in drought-prone Kolar, Chickballapur, Ramanagaram, Tumakuru, Bengaluru Rural, and Hassan districts, has come to a grinding halt.
Making a statement in the legislative assembly on Nov 19, Thursday, water resource minister M B Patil said project has been suspended till Dec 7 to avoid a stay from Green Bench of the Supreme Court. The Karnataka government has filed an affidavit agreeing to stop the work till next hearing.
A petition was filed before the Green Bench, challenging the government taking up construction in non-forest areas, before taking union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) permission to divert forest land. The bench also observed that even taking up work in non-forest land of a project, which involves diversion of forest areas before MoEF clearance was illegal and had asked the Karnataka government why the project should not be stayed?
Since the government counsel had no time to convince the court and wanted to collect relevant documents, Patil said he decided to take time till Dec 7, the date of next hearing.
Patil’s statement drew instant criticisms from all party members. While Jagadish Shettar and Shivalinge Gowda questioned why the government counsel was not prepared with the proper documents, former Speaker Ramesh Kumar wondered how work in non-forest land would be stopped. Patil said the court will be convinced by producting documents including environment clearance exemption for the project and MoEF correspondence at the next hearing.