CHENNAI:The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the State government to immediately start desilting Srivaikundam dam in Thoothukudi district and file periodical reports once in 15 days.
The matter pertains to a petition moved by S Joel, Thoothukudi district secretary of MDMK, to desilt the 150-year-old Srivaikundam dam stating that if maintained properly, it could store about eight thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of additional water benefiting more than a lakh acres of land.
Earlier, the NGT had pulled up the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for giving more importance to technicalities rather than the substance of the issue and for failing to consider the proposal by State government to desilt the Srivaikundam dam.
Subsequently, the Ministry submitted that a latest inspection of the dam revealed that to desilt the dam, nearly 800 trees are to be cut and therefore it requires more time to get an approval.
Refusing to accept the Ministry’s contention, the Bench of judicial member Justice P Jyothimani and expert member R Nagendran said, “What is required in this project is only desilting of Srivaikundam dam within the river area and some distance in the river. There is no question of cutting of any trees in that area during the process,” and directed that desilting has to be effected in the area without touching any trees.
The Bench further directed the State government to send a fresh proposal to the Ministry on or before June 2 and to inform the outcome of the proposal to the tribunal.
When the petition came up for hearing on Wednesday, the Bench directed the State to start the process immediately and file periodical status reports once in 15 days.
Stressing that the process should be carried out on a day-to-day basis, the Bench made it clear that no excuses would be entertained and directed the government to adopt required technologies so as to continue the desilting process even during the monsoon.
On Wednesday, MDMK leader Vaiko appeared for the petitioner and argued the case before the tribunal.