By: D. Chandrabhaskar Rao
The Ministry of Environment, based on the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), has accorded the much-awaited “in principle” Stage-I clearance for Kaleshwaram. The Stage-II clearance, officials say, can be expected within two months, and not later than December end.
The next stage of clearance will be accorded without referring again to the FAC. Once the Forest Department prepares estimates for the compensatory afforestation, the State will make payment of the cost involved in its implementation paving the way for the final (Stage II clearance). “It is more a formality now,” a top irrigation official told.
The Stage I nod will facilitate diversion of 3168.131 hectares of forest land for construction of canals, tunnels, lift systems, surge pool, delivery cistern and reservoirs proposed as part of the project.
The extent of forest land approved for diversion to the project was revised from 3221.2974 hectares that was proposed earlier. The State has already acquired some forest land that had the clearance from the Ministry of Environment, said the officials.
The acquisition of the required extent of forest land will be taken up in eight forest divisions of the State – Mahadevpur, Karimnagar, Sircilla, Siddipet, Yadadri, Medak, Nizamabad, Banswada and Nirmal. The State Government will be raising compensatory afforestation in non-forest land that will be equal in extent to the forest land being diverted for the project use. It will be mutated in favour of the State Forest Department before the Stage II clearance is issued.
The Ministry stressed that there was greater need to protect wildlife habitat in the forest area due to rapid infrastructure development leading to fragmentation of landscape. It asked the State government to take appropriate measures in the project area to increase fodder availability for wildlife.
It also stressed that anti-poaching and anti-encroachment strategies should be in place along with provision of salt licks. It also called for steps to raise public awareness levels with regard to wildlife protection and environment.
The works falling in the eco-sensitive zone should be carried out by the State after getting due permission from the competent authority. The State was also asked to follow the regulations of the eco-sensitive zone if it was applicable for the project.
The State government as well as the project authority have been asked to ensure that the trees between the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) and FRL-minus 3 meters are not felled. The project authority will prepare a plan for conservation of wildlife in consultation with the PCCF (Wildlife).
The Kaleshwaram Lift irrigation project was designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares of land in the upland areas of the erstwhile undivided districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Rangareddy. It will help divert 180 tmc of water from Godavari river at a cost of Rs 80,499.71 crores.
The source point for the project is near Medigadda village below the confluence point of Pranahita and Godavari river about 20 km from Kaleshwaram. The project plan envisages construction of three barrages between Yellampalli and Medigadda.
Source: Telangana Today