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Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project

Context:

The Supreme Court has ordered status quo on the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) after it was told the Telangana government was increasing the capacity of the project without any environmental clearances.

Relevance:

GS III- Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project
  2. Lift irrigation
  3. Issues with the Project
  4. National Green Tribunal (NGT)

About Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project

  • The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project is a multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari River in Kaleshwaram, Bhoopalpally, Telangana, India.
  • Currently the world’s largest multi-stage lift irrigation project, its farthest upstream influence is at the confluence of the Pranhita and Godavari rivers.
  • The Pranahita River is itself a confluence of various smaller tributaries including the Wardha, Painganga, and Wainganga rivers which combine to form the seventh-largest drainage basin on the subcontinent.
  • It remains untapped as its course is principally through dense forests and other ecologically sensitive zones such as wildlife sanctuaries.

Lift irrigation

  • Lift irrigation is a method of irrigation in which water is not transported by natural flow, (as in gravity-fed canal) but is lifted with pumps or surge pools etc.
  • Lift irrigation schemes must accomplish two main tasks:
    • To carry water by means of pumps or other way, from the water source to the main delivery chamber, which is situated at the top most point in the command area.
    • They must distribute this water to the field of the beneficiary farmers by means of a suitable and proper distribution.
  • So that in Lift Irrigation system, the gravity flow of water by canals or river is not available or used.

Issues with the Project

  • The NGT has observed that the Telangana government subsequently changed the design of the project to increase its capacity.
  • By increasing its capacity to pump 3 TMC water from 2 TMC, large tracts of forest land and other land were taken over and massive infrastructure was built causing an adverse impact on the environment.
  • Extraction of more water certainly requires more storage capacity and also affects hydrology and riverine ecology of Godavari River.
  • Such issues have to be examined by the statutory authorities concerned.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • The NGT was established on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government.
  • National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
  • NGT Act draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.

Structure of National Green Tribunal

  • Following the enactment of the said law, the Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench). Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region.
  • The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi.
  • Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
  • Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.

Powers of NGT

  • The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
    • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
    • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
    • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
    • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
    • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • This means that any violations pertaining ONLY to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
  • Importantly, the NGT has NOT been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.

-Source: The Hindu


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