The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a committee to submit a report on the alleged violation of norms in the construction of a reservoir across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu in Karnataka. The committee comprises senior members from the Integrated Regional Office, MoEF, Bangalore, Cauvery Water Management Authority, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited and the Forest Department not below the rank of Additional Conservator of Forest, Karnataka. A bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Department of Water Resources, Central Water Commission and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments, among others.
The direction came after taking suo motu (on its own) cognisance of a newspaper report that Karnataka proposes to construct a dam across the Cauvery river in the area and that the proposal was deferred by the Cauvery Water Management Authority twice in the past following strong opposition from the Tamil Nadu government citing the pendency of the case before the Supreme Court. "Considering the allegations made in the newspaper report, we are satisfied that there arises a substantial question of environment, which requires the interference of this Tribunal. So, the matter is admitted. Issue notice to the respondents along with a copy of the newspaper report and gist of the Suo Motu proceeding with full cause title so as to enable them to comply with the direction," the bench said.
The bench further directed the committee to check whether any construction activity as alleged in the newspaper report has been started without obtaining necessary clearance from the Forest Department, the MoEF under the Forest Conservation Act as well as the EIA Notification, 2006. “If there is any construction made and if any damage has been caused to the environment, they are directed to assess the damage caused to the environment and environmental compensation payable by the respective authorities who are responsible for the same," the bench said.