Put aside Rs 500 crore for lake clean-up: NGT to Karnataka government
Taking note of the authorities' neglect of pollution in Bellandur and Varthur lakes, the National Green Tribunal has ordered the Karnataka government to put aside Rs 500 crore towards the cleaning up of these lakes. The tribunal has also directed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to pay Rs 50 crore as environment compensation to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The tribunal has also sought an action plan for the lake clean-up in one month and has asked for a performance guarantee of Rs 100 crore, which shall be paid in case of failure to implement the plan within the timeline.
Centre approves Shahpurkandi dam project on Ravi river
Keeping in view the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, the union cabinet has given its go-ahead to the Shahpurkandi dam project on Ravi river in Punjab. The project which was planned 17 years ago, will help India arrest the water flowing through the Madhopur headworks downstream to Pakistan. The project has been planned to get completed in June 2022 and envisages to create an additional irrigation potential of 5,000 hectares in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in Jammu & Kashmir. The project will also generate 206 MW of hydropower in Punjab.
Green nod to Char Dham highway comes under SC scanner
The Supreme Court has sought the Centre's response to the expansion of the national highway network in sensitive mountains of Uttarakhand. The ambitious plan to connect the Char Dham pilgrimage spots—Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath—in Uttarakhand through a 900-kilometre road network had received the green clearance from the National Green Tribunal. The proposal, however, drew scepticism from environmental activists who fear that more development in the fragile hills of the state will affect the ecological balance of the region and can also lead to another disaster like the flood in Kedarnath in 2013.
Stage I forest clearance no more a prerequisite for converting forest land
In a letter to the Maharashtra government regarding forest diversion for several coal mining projects of Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL), the environment ministry has made forest rights act irrelevant in the initial stage. As per the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980, forest clearance is carried out in two stages—Stage I, the in-principle approval, and Stage II, the final approval. However, according to experts, exemption from Stage I clearance will not only dilute the importance of the Forest Rights Act in the name of ease of doing business but will also disregard the rights of tribal communities.
Panel recommends leasing of wasteland to the corporate sector for re-greening
In its report, the expert committee appointed by the environment ministry for suggesting ways to increase the green cover outside forests has recommended to lease wasteland to the corporate sector for re-greening. The committee has also recommended evolving business models for tree cultivation, issuance of green bonds and development of appropriate public-private partnership (PPP) models involving the private sector and forest corporations. The recommendations are made towards the completion of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution targets which aims to bring 33 percent of the geographical area under forest and tree cover by 2030.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from December 4-10, 2018. Also, read news this week.