Ken-Betwa river link project hits a roadblock

Policy matters this week
Map showing Ken-Betwa river link (Source: Shannon via Wikipedia)
Map showing Ken-Betwa river link (Source: Shannon via Wikipedia)

No clearance to Ken-Betwa river link project till wildlife issues are addressed

The Expert Panel of the Environment Ministry has decided not to take any call on the ambitious Ken-Betwa river link project until the crucial wildlife issues pertaining to the Panna Tiger Reserve are addressed. The project which has already received a nod from both the Madhya Pradesh Government and the Union Government, has been opposed as it will lead to a submergence of 41 of forest area in the tiger reserve and 14 in Chattarpur. 

Chhattisgarh Government has taken away tribal rights over forest lands

The Chhattisgarh government has cancelled the forest rights of tribals over their traditional lands in Ghatbarra village of Surguja district to facilitate coal mining in Prasa East and Kete Besan coal block. The block has been allocated to Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) and Adani Minerals Private Limited. This is the first such order in the country where the community rights of tribals have been cancelled after being granted through the process laid down in the Forest Rights Act, which does not provide for revocation of either community or individual land rights once granted. 

A bill on dam maintenance soon

With 80% of the country's large dams over 25 years old, the Central Government is mulling over plans to come up with a bill mandating regular inspection, maintenance and rehabilitation of dams across the country. The Water Minister has asked experts and Senior Officials of State Governments to identify dams which needed rehabilitation and take appropriate action to ensure their safety and operational performance. Along with this, the need to explore the tourism potential of existing dams was also emphasised.

NGT clears the the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway line

The National Green Tribunal has given a green nod to the Hubballi-Ankola railway line which will connect North Karnataka directly with Goa and Kerala and the two big ports of Karwar and Mangaluru. The 168 km rail link project, which cuts across the eco-sensitive Western Ghats, was rejected last year as it would convert 965 hectares of forest land for non-forest purposes. However, upholding the wish of the common man, the NGT has now cleared the project, at a time when ISRO's latest findings have observed that the Western Ghats has lost forest cover to the tune of 33,579 square km in the last 9 decades. 

Evacuation notice issued to residents on Mula-Mutha riverbed

To clear out construction within the floodline of the Mula-Mutha river, the Pune Municipal Corporation has issued evacuation notices to nearly 450 residents. However, the residents have claimed to receive clear sanctions by the civic body. Also, the Waterman of India, Rajendra Singh, has commented on the issue saying that, 'although it is essential to clear any construction on the riverbed, it is not the fault of the residents who put in their hard-earned money and invested in these flats which are now within the flood lines. It is the responsibility of the administration to make amendments and rehabilitate them before pulling down these constructions'.

This is a roundup of important policy matters from February 16 - 21, 2016. Also read last week's news roundup.

Lead image source: Shannon via Wikipedia


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