In an unprecedented decision, the National Green Tribunal (South Zone), Chennai, ordered status quo on all project activities proposed in the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems of Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga, Karnataka with immediate effect.
The directions were issued on the interim prayers filed in Applications by the undersigned which complained that Defence Research Development Organisation, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Space Research Organisation, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Karnataka Small Scale Industries Development Corporation, Karnataka Housing Board, Sagitaur Pvt. Ltd. have commenced project activities in these ecologically sensitive areas in comprehensive violations of laws protecting the environment, wildlife, forests, people's rights, etc.
The Tribunal in its order has also directed the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to review any pending applications for clearances sought from project proponents in due accordance with law over the next fortnight. The case has been posted for hearing again on 17th September 2013.
ESG through its Counsel, Mr. T. Mohan submitted that findings of the Committee establish beyond any doubt that the area that has been diverted to the projects is Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems, which per the Karnataka Forest Act are deemed District Forests.
Thus, the entire diversion is in contravention of the Forest Conservation Act, and the direction of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Godavarman case. In addition, the project proponents have commenced activities without securing any clearance under environmental and pollution control laws of India. Thus, arguing, that this is a fit case to grant interim prayer of stay on ongoing activities.
Leo F.Saldanha and ZBhargavi S. Rao from ECG submitted a detailed reply to the Report of the Fact Finding Committee, which is supported by ESG, critiquing the findings of the Committee. Various subject experts and organisations from across the world have also critiqued the findings of the Fact Finding Committee, which were submitted as part of this Reply to the Tribunal.