In response to the stop-work notice issued to Karnataka by Goa’s chief wildlife warden office over the Kalasa water project, the state government told the Union Environment Ministry’s Regional Empowered Committee (REC) that under Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act, there is no restriction on Karnataka state government in using its share of water and called the notice ‘farfetched and unjust’.
‘Karnataka informed that under Section 29 of Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA), there is no restriction on Karnataka State Government using its share of water within its jurisdiction and the extrapolation of WLPA is farfetched and unjust as if it were to be the legislative intent, no river water project would ever be possible. The User Agency (Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited) is going to operate only during monsoon season i.e., from 1st of June to 31st of October (5 months) and the rest of the year there will be no pumping,’ Karnataka told the REC according to a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the REC accessed by The Indian Express.
While the Karnataka government is gearing towards implementing the Kalasa-Banduri project after the Centre approved the revised detailed project report (DPR) in December 2022, the chief wildlife warden of the Goa Forest Department on January 9 issued a stop-work notice to the Karnataka government as the project site falls within the jurisdiction of the Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary.
The notice issued by the chief wildlife warden, Goa, Saurabh Kumar, stated that no water flowing into the sanctuary from Kalasa and Banduri rivulets can be diverted under Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The project aims to take up the Kalasa-Banduri project by diverting water from Mahadayi to meet the drinking water needs of Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Gadag districts of Karnataka.
‘Whereas Kalasa Rivulet (nallah) and Bhandura Rivulet (nallah) flow through and within the said Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary and whereas the water from the said Kalasa Rivulet (nallah) is one of the sources of water for the said Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary and the wildlife existing therein and also other flora and fauna in the said Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary.
And whereas under section 29 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 there is a complete prohibition to divert any flow of water into or outside the sanctuary from any wildlife sanctuary except under and in accordance with permission granted by Chief Wildlife Warden, as per due procedure prescribed, and that too only for the benefit and purpose necessary for the improvement and better management of the wildlife sanctuary and wildlife therein,’ Kumar’s notice had said.