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Date: 10 October 2012 – Kalu dam: State looks to MoEF again

The state government has applied to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) once again, seeking the go -ahead for the construction of a dam on the River Kalu in Thane District. The Ministry had earlier rejected the proposal sent by the state, which had already begun construction of the dam without the necessary sanctions.

The government on Tuesday informed the Bombay high court that it had applied for the sanction once more on the grounds that the dam water is meant for drinking purposes, and thus the permission to build it should be granted. The plea also states that the dam, if constructed, would improve the situation of drinking water availability in areas such as Mira-Bhayandar and Navi Mumbai.

However, the MoEF, based on a report submitted by its Advisory Committee, has stated that the government should not be allowed to build the dam. This was communicated to the state government as per a letter dated July 27.

The report states that the project area fell under the ecologically sensitive zone of the Western Ghats, and also involved rehabilitation of the villages, a rehabilitation plan, an environment impact assessment report, a technical report on wildlife status and management, a gram sabha resolution for the forest dwellers who have been granted rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act.

The government failed to furnish all the above documents, and in the MoEF recommended that the case be closed.

The decision was given during the hearing of a petition filed by Shramik Mukhti Sanghatana, an NGO, that has alleged that the dam over the river was being built without required permission from the forest department.

On June 5, DNA had first reported how the dam, if built, would submerge an area of 2,100 hectares, including around 1,000 hectares of dense forest, and displace four villages.

Subsequently, in an affidavit filed by the state government, it had admitted that work on Kalu dam in Murbad began in October 2010 without required permission from the Centre and the MoEF.

According to the state, as per a resolution passed on July 9, 2009, it was granted an approval for building the dam. However, the Sanghatana argued that it was only after they moved the court that the state had sought the necessary permissions.

The Kalu dam, after being built, will be able to store a total capacity of 407.99MCM of water.

A total of 2258.87 hectares of land is going to be submerged under water. A total of 787 families likely to be affected by the project, and each family is being provided with Rs7 lakh as compensation.

A total area of 999.32 hectares is being reserved in Beed district to relocate the forest land which will be used for the project.

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