BENGALURU: A mini hydel project across River Kumaradhara which was constructed and commissioned in 2014 in pristine forest lands of Kodagu district has now got the green signal. The Regional Empowered Committee (REC), south zone, Ministry of Environment and Forests, has cleared the project but questioned the state government’s decision to allot forest land for non-forestry purposes and further directed them to furnish a report.
The Kodagu Hydel Projects Pvt Ltd was sanctioned in pristine semi-evergreen and evergreen forest land in the Pushpagiri hill ranges of Kumaralli village, Madikeri division for implementing the 3 MW capacity Beedalli Mini Hydel Project. After the project took off in 2014, the DCF, Madikeri division issued notices to the company to submit the proposal for diversion of forest land under Forest (Conservation) Act, (FCA),1980 and to stop work till the necessary approval is obtained. Further, the CCF, Kodagu division reported that though the company was granted two acres, it was occupying more than 2.35 acres excluding the road, building and transmission lines.
Meanwhile, the company filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court and the court noted that the then DC, Kodagu district in 2007, had granted two acres of land in Survey No. 1/9 of Kumaralli village in Somwarpet taluk for establishing this hydel project. So, on the directions of the HC, the company submitted a proposal under FCA, 1980. Further, the state government was directed to process the application and send it to the central government as the company had already spent `13 crore on the project.
Joint Inspection Report
The report submitted by the joint inspection team clearly says the state government had violated all rules while allotting the land. Further, as per the DSS analysis done, the proposed area is inviolate as it violates hydrological rules. The area proposed for diversion comes under 250 metre buffer area of river Kumaradhara, a major water body in Kodagu.
Added to this, the findings of DCF (Central) states that the proposed forest area falls under Eco-Class 1 (dense forest). The area where the power house is built and official buildings are constructed had thick riverine vegetation and now some remnants are left in the field. Many known and rare species are found here.