In a setback to the Karnataka government, a central green panel has deferred environment clearance to a state's proposal to raise Almatti dam height over the Krishna river in north Karnataka. With neighbouring states raising concerns over the move, the panel has asked the Karnataka government to get the clearance from the Central Water Commission (CWC) for hydrology and inter-state aspects. Last month, an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects under the Environment Ministry examined the Karnataka government's proposal. "The EAC noted that the proposal has not been appraised by the CWC for hydrology and inter-state issues. Vetting by CWC for these two aspects is essential. In view of this, the committee deferred the proposal," a senior Environment Ministry official told PTI. Normally, the final clearance is given by the ministry based on the recommendations of the EAC. The EAC has categorically told that the Karnataka government should first obtain the CWC clearance and thereafter it will reconsider the proposal in the next meeting. The proposal has been a contentious issue for basin states Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharasthra who have made several representations to the Centre. The Karnataka's proposal is to increase the height of the Almatti dam from 519.60 metres to 524.256 metres and construct four lift irrigation projects as part of third phase of the Upper Krishna River Project (UKRP) that will irrigate 5.3 lakh hectares of land in seven districts of North Karnataka. This will also help the state to store and make use of additional water of 907 thousand million cubic feet (tmc) allocated by the second Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal. The state government has pegged total cost of the project to be Rs 17,207 crore as per the 2011-12 prices. Due to increase in dam height, 17 villages and 10 wards of Bagalkot and 3 villages of Vijayapura district will be submerged, it said in its proposal. Total land required for the project is 58,375 hectares. Of which, 31,439 hectares under submergence and 26,936 hectares for construction under submergence. Necessary forest clearance is yet to be obtained, it added.