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Kaleshwaram Project

Kaleshwaram Project

Context:

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Telangana government to stop all work, except the drinking water component of the Kaleshwaram Project. 

  • As per NGT, environmental clearance (EC) granted to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project was ex post facto (i.e. granted after completion of substantial work) and illegal.

Background:

  • In 2018 the petition filed mentioned that while the Kaleshwaram Project was a lift irrigation system, the state government wrongly claimed, until the grant of environmental clearance (EC), that the project was not for lift irrigation, but only for drinking water supply.
  • In 2017 before granting environmental clearance substantial work of the project had already been undertaken. Thus, the EC was ex post facto, in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had published the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 to replace the existing EIA Notification 2006 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Concerns:

  • Functioning without requisite: Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project was functioning without requisite prior environmental clearance under EIA Notification, 2006, until 2017, when the EC was granted.
  • Forest clearance: Project contractor L&T was alleged to have cleared large areas of forest land for the construction of quarters for its employees, without requisite forest clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
    • The NGT directed that until the Telangana government obtains final forest clearance, it should stop all work except the drinking water component.
  • Accountability: NGT observed that the accountability of the responsible person needs to be fixed and remedial measures have to be taken.
    • For that purpose, it has directed the MoEFCC to constitute a seven-member expert committee.
    • The expert committee could assess the extent of damage caused by going ahead with the project without EC from 2008 to 2017 and also identify the necessary restoration measures.
    • The expert committee must be constituted within a month and needs to complete its exercise within six months.

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project:

  • The Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project is the world’s largest irrigation and drinking water system.
  • The project is on the Godavari River in Kaleshwaram, Bhupalpally, Telangana.
  • The project starts at the confluence point of Pranahita River and Godavari River.

Source: Indian Express