The National Green Tribunal's (NGT) Southern Bench has given clearance to Tamil Nadu's Rs 565 crore Mettur Sarabanga Lift Irrigation project, launched by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami just before the Assembly election notification was issued.
Hearing a petition by DMK leader and former MP, A.K.S. Vijayan that the state government did not conduct a proper Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and had not got prior environmental clearance (EC) from the Union Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry, the green tribunal set up an experts team drawn from the Ministry, the state EIA committee and the state Public Works Department to look into any violations of process in clearing the Mettur irrigation project.
The ream found that on the basis of the EIA notification of 2006 and subsequent amendments, it is not necessary to have prior EC clearance for river valley projects or hydroelectric projects within 2,000 hectares.
It also noted that even though the project activity does not require mandatory EIA clearance, the state undertook an EIA study using an accredited consultant.
The joint panel found that there was no violation in the project, and did not recommend any penalties or environmental compensation.
The state government also stated that they were regulating the water received from Karnataka and water from Mettur reservoir was used only for the benefit of Tamil Nadu's people.
This statement came in response to another contention of the former MP that the clearance of the Centre was required as the interests of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were involved.
The Mettur Irrigation Lift project is aimed at irrigating 4,200 acres of land in Edappadi, Omalur, Sankagiri and Mettur taluks, diverting surplus water from Mettur reservoir through 100 tanks, lakes and ponds.
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