The Telangana government’s Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, which aims to take water to the state’s drought-hit regions, suffered a setback as the National Green Tribunal sought answers from the Centre and two state governments about the scheme’s environmental and other clearances. Responding to a plea challenging the construction of the project, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Telangana and Maharashtra governments, the Central Water Commission, the state pollution control boards of the two states and others.
The green panel has sought a reply from all the parties within two weeks asking why construction activities for the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme should not be stopped until the mandatory statutory clearances including Environment and Forest clearances were granted. The matter is fixed for a hearing on July 27.
The tribunal was hearing a plea on May 31 filed by Telangana-based Mohammad Hayathuddin, who alleged that the construction of the scheme had begun without environmental and other statutory clearances. The plea, filed through advocates Sanjay Upadhyay and Salik Shafique, sought a ban on any non-forest activities — such as felling of trees and blasting and tunnelling activities in the forest areas which were in violation of the Forest Conservation Act.
The project envisages the construction of a barrage across river Godavari near Medigadda village in the Karimnagar district of Telangana for diversion of 180,000 million cubic feet of water which could irrigate 7,38,851 hectares of land, covering the erstwhile Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Rangareddy districts of Telangana.