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Is the state lax about environment protection?

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Even as he cuts the red ribbon for the controversial Gundia power project on Saturday, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will be violating the law. The project, taken up by the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) to augment power generation in the state, is yet to get both forest and environmental clearance from the Centre.

As per the Forest Conservation Act, such diversion of forests to non-forestry usage without prior clearance is an offence, and punishable. The forest officer responsible for the violation will have to face the music. For the full report in TOI, click      here
Simultaneously, minister for Housing and Endowment, Sri Krishnaiah Setty, has stated that Shree Kukke Subramanya temple, deep in the middle of dense rain forests, would be developed at a cost of Rs 180 crore, and the department has already issued work order for Rs 60 crore. For the full report in the New Indian Express, click       here

While, that's about the government, there's an allegation that the Division Bench of the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka granted Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) permission to fell trees in Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao boulevard, without going into the full merits of the case, as it was based on an Ordinance which had lapsed and involved absolute lack of compliance with the provisions of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, Government Parks (Protection) Act, Karnataka Parks, Open Spaces Playfields (Protection and Regulation) Act, Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, and various other applicable laws. For the text of the press report by Hasiru Usiru, click       here

Even as that's the approach of the government and the Karnataka HC, the CJI is suggesting 'to shelve projects that adversely affect ecology'. Asking higher judiciary to continue playing a ‘dominant role’ in ensuring environment protection, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Saturday favoured shelving of projects if there was any suspicion that they would adversely affect the ecology. “The judiciary must continue to play dominant role in the protection of the environment which is degrading,” the CJI said while addressing a seminar on ‘Law and Environment’  here. For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click       here

Where does all of this take us?

Muralidhar Rao



Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Takes us also to Small Hydro Projects in virgin Western Ghats...

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Murali Sir

Some more hot news - Karnataka Renewable Energy Dev Corpn. Ltd., /  has so far sanctioned a total 128 private players to set up Small Hydro Electric Power Generation projects mostly in the virgin/verdant western Ghats of Karnataka- are under various stages of construction/implementation with untold ecological disaster; 

- These 128 projects are supposed to feed about 643.16 MW of power to the power grid. 

- Whether clearances from various controlling authorities or whether  implementation of such projects are violative of existing judicial orders are not clear and an RTI application may throw enough light on these projects.

Gundia Project inauguration fiasco: A private TV channel has aired real time interviews from 'green peace' protestors - " we were not allowed to reach the inauguration spot to air our peaceful protestations - our vehicles were stopped midway by authorities - we were taken to a choultry in a nearby village, kept their till the function was over and later were released"  

- Another version: an influential politician has an existing Government licensed Small Hydro Electric Power Project in that area that is likely to be get submerged by the backwaters of Gundia storage reservoir. He is creating this chaos along with some others who have their own vested interests due to submergence.

- No asker, No teller - dance of demonic disasters.

-Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

Promod Kapur's picture

Environment and development can be complementary

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There is one cardinal truth - land is not increasing but population is and demand will always exceed supply. When population increases, it not only puts pressure on land, but on all resources connected with needs (and greed) of people. Knowing that the twain shall never meet, we need to have a rational approach when addressing the challenges. On the one hand we demand that governement provides its citizens basic neccessities like water, shelter , power and other services, yet on the other we resist every effort that the government makes in meeting just those very demands. Is there a meeting point somewhere? I believe there is, and that can come about only when we engage with the powers that be, in a rational, open and constructive manner. There will be no perfect solution, because there are inherent contradictions in solution itself. The alternate is litigation and litigation and more litigation, all of which does not help any one, The biggest destroyer of environment and ecology is the citizen himself. He destroys for his own personal benefit. The Government at least pretends it is doing for public interest at large. To make sure that stated public interest is kept in mind, we have got to have a working arrangement with the authorities. I am not a defendant of government, neither do I defend the notion that development can take place in a vaccuum. There has to be a rational approach, where something will be gained and something will be lost..

Whereas I am equally apalled at the prospect of valuable  tree cover being lost in Bangalore, and Lalbagh being encroached is equally upsetting, but there has to be a solution to the problem as we see it. Taking hard lines will mean nothing and it will lead us no where. Now the High Court has given its decision and we are questioning that. as well?  Where does this all lead to? CJI may have given a statement, which is perfectly appropriate, but it is not a judicial order. It is his personal opinion as indeed it is of most of us.

Western Ghats hydel projects

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Hydel projects are a must in our state. Infact, they average a plant load factor of 35% and produce cheap power at Rs. 1.10 - Rs. 2 a unit. Thermal from Bellary for example costs Rs. 2.3 or more a unit.

Hydel projects DO NOT emit carbondioxide

Second, there will not be any large scale upset of forest land unlike the Three Gorges Dam project of China or even the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat.

Third, the land occupied by Hydel Projects is very small and does not upset any sort of ecological imbalance in the western ghats.

Unfortunately the greens in India and the greens on this forum are prone to knee jerk environmentalism. They find it necessary to have cars and space for cars but can be arm chair environmentalists without understanding ABC of the power sector or the implementation of Hydel projects.

I welcome the Gundia project. It is a necessary project. Infact the benefits are more so because in the peak June, July, August season, we can sell our surplus power to Punjab and other northern states and we receive the same back during peak summer months for us.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Comments are free but....

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Cadambi Avare,

Comments are free but facts are sacred.

I will definitely support Mr.Cadambi's Gundia only if he ensures that there is a semblance of saving of scarce electricity that is being misused even during day time when the glorious light of solar rays are available around us.

I request you to go and stand near the statue of Kaveri at about 11 am (front of Kaveri Bhavan in Mysore Bank Square - I have a photo of this blatant misuse of power for lighting purpose by a service provider and would not mind uploading it if I could get your mail ID), look up to the floors of Bescom office where hundreds of tube lights will be burning even though their wide windows will be open for allowing bright light.   Agreed, not all of us are Sarvagnaas but some pose as if they are and hide behind a facade of ignorance of facts.  

Green warriors will continue their fight to save the planet earth and men from Mars will destroy the delicate fabric of earth.

I oppose destruction of verdant forest land that gets submerged with Gundia and I also oppose Bescom office misusing their own raw material even during day time for lighting purpose.

- Vasanth Mysoremath

Small hydel a success

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I don't claim to be an expert on the power sector, but here is my take on this:

1.) Vasanth about power wastage by bescom - it is all about paying the right prices. Only an effecient pricing mechanism can automatically control this. But this is a different topic. Bescom is not involved in Gundia, it is KPTCL

2.) Political opposition - it is a well know fact that the vocal minority and empty vessels oppose any move by the BJP - so enough said on this regard. Empty vessels make more noise anyway.

3.)  Forest land - even "savannah" type flat land like the ones we see in "maidan" land in Hassan are sometimes classified as forests. The classification "forest" is more of an umberella term.

The Gundia project is not located in any sensitive ecological area like Silent Valey or in Tiger territory. It does not affect elephant migration or any other species migration.

The Greens in India are very unscientific in their assessments. They do not have any moderate middle ground and / or an open mind.

It is common sense (or perhaps not) that Hydel power does not emit any greenhouse gases. Yet, our people like Medha Patkar need publicity for their mysterious causes! Nothing but a bunch of narcissists like Prakash Karat and co.

srinidhi's picture

are we talking micro hydro power ?

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 Micro Hydro Cons - Disadvantages

Suitable site characteristics required
In order to take full advantage of the electrical potential of small streams, a suitable site is needed. Factors to consider are: distance from the power source to the location where energy is required, stream size (including flow rate, output and drop), and a balance of system components — inverter, batteries, controller, transmission line and pipelines.

Energy expansion not possible
The size and flow of small streams may restrict future site expansion as the power demand increases.

Low-power in the summer months
In many locations stream size will fluctuate seasonally. During the summer months there will likely be less flow and therefore less power output. Advanced planning and research will be needed to ensure adequate energy requirements are met.

Environmental impact
The ecological impact of small-scale hydro is minimal; however the low-level environmental effects must be taken into consideration before construction begins. Stream water will be diverted away from a portion of the stream, and proper caution must be exercised to ensure there will be no damaging impact on the local ecology or civil infrastructure.


Ravi_D's picture

Open mind needed

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We need to look at these things with an open mind, and not take sides just beacuse we like or hate greens or greenery.

Do we have facts / figures to argue either way? Just stating it is going to destry forests or save CO2 sounds more ideological than analytical.

What is this Gundia project about? What type of hydel project? How much 'forest' land is used? How much of it is already converted plantation land? What are we getting and at what cost? Stats pls...

But energy we must have. Much of development can coexist with ecology, if (and a BIG if that is) we really want it that way. 


Ravi_D's picture

Some links...

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This PDF copy of an article by Shankar Sharma has some interesting numbers arguing one side of the story.




Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

If somebody is not an expert, then....history repeats

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Cadambi avare, 
Pl. have a look at Srinidhi and Ravi's takes.  Ravi's link may clear some of your other takes 2 and 3 on Gundia.
With due regards to your learned observations, allow me to say a few words::
Take 1 - Bescom's power wastage: You have used these words and you have agreed that there is wastage of power by Bescom itself.  It is not the question of paying the 'right price'.  Scarcity of power and depleting availability of natural resources is the main issue here.  Bescom does not have to pay for its use/misuse of electricity because it is their raw material and finished product. 
You asked for it -
- please have a look at the following - how destruction of vegetation and natural resources are putting man kind into a state of frenzy to save the earth:
Destruction of natural vegetation and attack on the abode of wild life in the name of development by human beings is taking place every minute right in front of our eyes. How disasterous it has become is corroborated in brief, with facts as below, carved out from various reports of international repute:
The following are not  "empty vessel noises": you may also like to have a look at:

a)   Himalayan and Kilimanjero mountains range glaciers have been melting much faster than they were about 10 years ago and are flowing into the seas - disaster: flooded rivers, fertile soil erosion with destruction of valuable flora and fauna

b)   rise in sea level: Frequency of waves with alarming increase in height reaching the shores with flash gale force and sucking away the valuable land into the depths of oceans
- During the last 10 years, TWO ESTUARY ISLANDS Lohachara and Suparibhanga, inhibited with tribals in a cluster of 100 islands in the Sunderbans Forest reserve area - the home of royal bengal tigers in Bay of Bengal HAVE DISPPEARED under the sea due to increase in sea level. Rare animal species viz.,Water Buffalo, Javan Rhino,Swamp Deers, Barking Deers have vanished from these forest islands.
- Submerging of islands has resulted in mass movement and migration of tribal people to high lands. they have become homeless and need immediate rehabilitation at considerable expense - similar is the case along the coastal areas of southern peninsular India.
- Developing countries like India and others are facing ecological disasters due to uncontrolled spewing of green houses gases by developed countries that results in global warming and climatic changes all over the world..

d)   UN Environment study has revealed that due to increased melting and shrinking of glaciers, world has lost 10.5 meters of water equivalent and has lost thousands of hectares of land. Satellite data indicates that Arctic Sea ice has shrunk by 2.7 per cent per decade and sea level has risen by 1.8 cm per decade since 1960.

e)   Due to uncontrolled destruction of forest areas by greedy human beings for materialistic development purpose without regard to care and love for our future generations, the ever green carbon sinks have been alarmingly reduced.  Study has revealed that whatever green cover is remaining, it will not be able to absorb CO2 more than what the ecology can afford. The present spewing of 35 per cent of CO2 is proving costly.

f) Low grade coal being burnt in thermal plants for generation of electricity is spewing too much of CO2 for too little power.

g)Increase in population is also a contributing factor towards increasing CO2 and is hastening the ecological disaster.

g)Report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)reveals that by 2070 Kolkota (estimated population: 14 million) and Bombay (40 million) will be the most vulnerable cities to get submerged under water due to increased in mean sea level of about 1.6 feet; estimated financial impact would be $35 trillion.

h)  Bio-diversity is taking place at a fast pace and every hour 3 species, every day 150 species and every year 18000 to 55,000 species are being lost; enchanting corals under sea are getting bleeched and are loosing their natural color and lustre due to increase in underwater temperature.

i)   It is reported that in many parts of the world we will be witnessing disappearance of various species of life forms due to bio-diversity and different levels of rising temperatures
- In Arctic region, only 750 polar bears are living, in Indonesia Orangutans are having difficult time in adjusting to increased heat, in India, the number of Chinkaaras, Blackbucks is dwindling, in Mauritious the Dodo bird is not seen for decades,in Europe, honey bee colonies have collapsed thus considerable reduction in natural polination of fruits,vegetables and seed crops is expected to harm the food production capacity, similarly vanishing of birds species, butterflies is causing an alarming situation, in Australia alone, 41.51% of endemic plant species, 14% of reptiles,18% frogs,10% of birds, and 15% mammals will be lost.

k)  Temperature between 1995 and 2006 - 11 years, was the warmest since 1850.

l)  The GEO-4 group has warned that due to increase in consumption and associated wastes, serious problems about air quality, fresh water availability and a threat to food security will threaten the mankind.

m)  Every year more than 5,00,000 people are dying due to pollution and 660 million people are lacking access to safe water due to climatic changes.

n)  In Asia Pacific region the number of cars and two wheelers increased by 10% and are emitting increased quantity of CO2.

o)  Scientists have recognised that that there has been an increase of 0.6 per cent degree celsius in global temperature over last century.
p)   By 2100 arctic ice is expected to melt completely with heavy summer rainfall, increased incidences of heatwaves and tropical storms, submergence of low lying coastal areas, lower agricultural production.
q)   due to uncontrolled over exploitation of natural resources the world will be literally starved for resources and will be 'power-less’ by the year 2100.
      I do not think it is necessary for me to answer your other takes.
Want some more -
please have a look at my effort to save the planet -Media coverage etc.:
is the Increase in the global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1992.
388.57 ppm
Average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in May 2008, a record high.
541 – 970 ppm
The projected concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 2100 under a business as usual scenario where we don't dramatically reduce global warming emissions.
260 – 280 ppm
Average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before industrial emissions.
50 – 200 years
Length of time carbon dioxide stays in the earth's atmosphere before it is absorbed into carbon sinks.
1000 years
Length of time changes in the earth's surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level will remain even after carbon dioxide emissions are completely stopped.
Percentage that 2008's Arctic seasonal sea ice melt outpaced normal levels.
Increase in the rate of Greenland's ice melt over the last five years.
1.7 days
Number of days earlier seasons are coming than 50 years ago.
1.5 million
Number of acres of forests in Colorado destroyed by the pine beetle, which is better able to survive warmer winters and is wrecking havoc in America's western forests.
$427 million
Amount spent by the oil and coal industries in the first six months of 2008 in political contributions, lobbying expenditures and advertising to oppose climate action.
Number of global warming bills passed by the Senate.
Number of global warming bills passed by the House.
India has brought out a climate control policy paper which is not committing itself to a set pattern of reducing carbon footprints - this is rightly so because US of A has the highest record of emitting 25%, European countries: 15%, India is at 4-6 per cent.  At best in about 10 years even if it adopts more industrialisation for production of minimum basic needs of its citizens, the carbon footprints may not exceed 8 per cent because India is aware of its responsibilities in climate control and has already embarked on a number of initiatives that have been appreciated and are being emulated in other countries.   The common man is the hero here because his requirements are only need based unlike the 'out of the box' materialistic living conditions of citizens of US/EUA etc.
- Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
shamalakittane's picture

'Right price' ??

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How does 'right price' sort out anything, 'resources will always come cheap as long as GOD himself doesnt come down and claim ownership!

So how would you price resources ? its impossible given the present 'globalisation trends' where resources in a poor country can never be priced 'right' for those with money at their disposal.

do you even know the kind of resources that get wasted in MNCs - it is just unbelievable and it'll never be priced right - simply 'coz the govt makes more money by simply having those companies here, and even if the companies are paying 10 times the price that you and me pay for the same resources they have 100 times more money to just dispose off.....

As long as we live in a system where 'natural resources' only mean 'extractio/transportation/conversion' cost and for the government to exploit as they please in the name of development - there can never be any 'right price' !

So, lets first talk of 'REDUCTION' and 'EQUITY' and then development....

murali772's picture

by-passing of procedures

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A comparison between the environmental and other costs attached to hydel project in the middle of thick forests, and the benefits arising out of the cheap power it generates, can go on till the cows come home.

But, the more important aspect here is the alleged by-passing of the procedures by the government agencies involved. And prima facie, there appears to be some substance to the charges. How can the government and its agencies go about things in this fashion?  

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Promod Kapur's picture

Bye Passing Procedures

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Murali, your contention is so much like what a certain gentleman caused you to leave another group. With so much overstepping of one authority into another, do you think that we can get anywhere before cows come home? And let us be very clear, the delay in getting clearances is a matter of routine delay, it will come at some point, but if we keep waiting, you can keep counting on retarded growth because power is at the heart of all activity. The history of all projects is "delay because of procedure so adopted", not because there are serious objections as such. The results are for all of us to see - India is atleast 25 years behind any other country that gained independence the same time as us.

I am not saying that there should be no procedures, but to make these procedure simple and easy to implement, we must change our  approach. The system is today the biggest hindrance to development in a planned manner. So let us not criticise or condemn the project, let us condemn the system that does not allow transparency and easy implementation. There will always be more than one view on the suitability or viability, and there will never be any consensus - thanks to the liberty of thought and speech guaranteed to us by the constitution. But there is one implementing authority and we mjust accept this fact - no matter how bitter it might seem.



Major Kapur
murali772's picture

following procedures

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@ Major Kapur

Sir - I have never supported by-passing of procedures. It was plainly because the Secretary General of CAF kept bringing up the consitutional position that CAF was only a debating platform and cannot take positions on issues, whenever any of the action plans proposed by members did not suit him, that I declared that I was going to be taking a back seat till such time as the constitution was amended. An "action" forum, with such a position in its constitution, was a total paradox to me.

I have in fact been repeatedly bringing up the issue of "Scrapping of all Acts that have no current relevance, and updating the remaining to make them relevant to current needs - the exercise started by Sri Arun Shourie in the Vajpayee government" (check         here         ), since these have been repeatedly mis-used by various vested interest groups in various ways.

As to the position taken by the CAF SecGen that ABIDe, quite like BATF, was unconstitutional and therefore CAF should not be engaging with it, my argument was that both were only advisory bodies, and as long as whatever decisions taken were being executed following due processes, no impropriety was being committed.

Regards, Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Meanwhile, in Karachi

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A complete ban on tree cutting has been ordered on Wednesday by a Sindh HC division bench, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Safdar Ali Bhutto, in a constitutional petition filed by Advocate Qazi Athar Ali. The petitioner moved the court maintaining that more than 5,000 fully grown trees are brutally being cut down by different civic and utility agencies including the city government. He submitted that the first tenders for cutting the trees were floated and then money was minted for planting of new saplings. Out of thousands, only few plants survive, as most are imported varieties and not suitable for the local climate, the petitioner submitted.

The bench, after perusing the figures and hearing the contention of the petitioner appearing in person, ordered that no tree will be chopped down from the base from now onwards. The bench said that for any tree cutting, approval from the court would be necessary in the territorial limits of Karachi division, including the coastal areas where mangrove forests are being cut down mercilessly. The bench, however, allowed trimming of a tree if necessary.

The above forms the text of a recent report in Daily Times, Karachi. We are used to looking down upon Pakistan. Here's a very good reason now to look up at them

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Arun's picture

...will be a disaster...

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This is not a mini hydel to assume that the project will occupy very less space. The land requirement and submergence would be very minimal if it is a small plant of about 10-15MW or even little more; though not as big as Three G or Sardar Sarovar, this will entail medium to large scale destruction. Come on, this is a 400 MW. People who know about setting up power plants can immediately assess the hectares that would go under water in this case. Unfortunately, they are always biased towards the projects.
Simply because we are suffering from power shortage, exploiting Western Ghats, be it Gundia or at Irruppu is senseless. Why shouldn’t judicious transmission and utilization be ramped up? BESCOM or any other *COM or KPCL/KPTCL, they need to be more efficient. They cannot be de-linked!
All South Indian rivers are rain fed and the PLF is normally between 40-55%. If the Govt continuously keeps meddling with the eco system of the WG, very soon the streams would grow thinner and the PLF (plant load factor) would soon be unviable.
Should we be taking sides, viz., BJP or otherwise? The fact is no process has been followed and there is every reason to believe that this project is detrimental to the interests of local people in particular and those dependent on these rivers in general. Given this, if the Chief Minister of the land launches the project, there is very little that people can hope that the Govt will be just in its decisions. Ironically, the CM is holding the Forest portfolio! The previous Govt tried to bulldoze opposition to the Chamalapura Plant, but people persisted and now the project is not talked about atleast. 
Enough damage has been caused to the WG and the changes are there to be seen. While coffee planters have wiped off rain forests, many power plants, dams and iron ore mining too have contributed to the destruction. 
Something which we all know –
  • Govt’s track record on transparency and concern for the eco system, it is nothing but pathetic. This is not the first time that projects have been launched without all necessary clearances and consultations. 
  • Had the Govt even thought that things are moving as per the rule book, they would not have had gun totting policemen in army wear. Initially I thought this must be a photo from Sri Lanka.
  • Doubtable DPR
  • No savannah type land in the WG 
 Some of the experts whom I spoke to on this recently were not so positive about this project due to environmental reasons and also the fact that the same department has given permissions for setting up mini hydel projects in the region whose future will be uncertain.  Expect PILs from them if the Govt decides to go ahead in an autocratic way.
murali772's picture

Jairam Ramesh to the rescue?

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Ramesh added he hasn’t heard about the controversial Gundia hydel power project. If it is non-forest activity on forest land, without any clearances, then it is illegal.

For the full text, click on:

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Yes Minister, but Why 100 mini hydel projects-Western Ghats?

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Mr. Jairam Ramesh " Western Ghats is in a bad shape and the Center will do everything to ensure the region's ecology is restored" .....but..

-- The vergin forests of Western ghats are being used/misused to set up 100 mini hydel projects by private parties - sanction accorded through KREDL - What will be area of destruction, inundation of forest wealth,  effect on environment, have central clearances through MNES been obtained, will the electricity produced be economical and commensurate/comprable with the destruction of ecology, are the primary questions that need to be answered. 

Has this been brought to the notice of the Ministerji?

- Vasanth Mysoremath


murali772's picture

Gundia project to be reviewed

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For the report in TOI, click           here

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Govt told to act immediately to regain green cover

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The state has lost 8.63 lakh hectares of forest area over the years. From its earlier 30.04 lakh hectares of forest cover, it has lost 8.63 lakh hectares. To compensate this, the state planned to develop forest cover in 3.10 lakh hectare, but till date it could only do so in 0.24 lakh hectares.

For the full report in the TOI, click here

Muralidhar Rao
blrsri's picture

they only develop social forestry

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they are clearing the evergreens in the name of development..and trying to talk about compensation..
its just mockery cos the virgin forest cover can never be replaced..and social forestry is no option!
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