The National Green Tribunal (NGT) New Delhi has taken up the hearing of a petition filed by environmentalist K N Somashekhar questioning the sanction of 13.93 Hectare of forest land for Ettinahole project, reported Kannada Prabha.

Representing Somashekhar, advocate Ritwick Dutta argued before the NGT bench headed by justice Jadhav Raheem and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee that there are several loopholes in the Ettinahole project and also violation of various environment and forest Acts.

The Ettinahole Project is coming up in eco-sensitive region. There is restriction of any kind of construction work in that region.  The same conditions imposed on the first phase of the project have been repeated in the second and third phases. How can a project proceed to second and third stage without fulfilling the conditions of the first stage, Dutta questioned.  Permission for the second phase should have been sanctioned only after fulfilling the conditions laid out in the first phase.

The Ettinahole Project was taken up to resolve the acute drinking water problem in Kolara, Chikkaballapura, Hasana and Bengaluru Rural regions. It envisaged supplying 24 tmc water to these areas during monsoon. However, the government’s project is a fake as there is no possibility of getting that amount of water in Ettinahole and all rules regarding environment have been completely ignored alleged Somashekhar.

The consul for Somashekhar argued that the authorities have not conducted a study of the negative effects of the project on environment. The State Government has taken up the project without studying the project cost and benefits in terms of finance incurred and profit obtained and also destruction of forest area.  For drinking water project it cannot be said that expenses and profits are insignificant.  Conducting construction in virgin forest has long lasting damages, he argued.

Any project that requires over 5 hectares of land in hilly region requires Central Government’s Forest Advisory Committee.  The Ettinahole Project ha sbeen approved only by the Regional High Level Committee, violating the rules, he argued. The hearing will continue on Tuesday.