Despite a stay on the construction of the Kanhar Dam in Maoist-hit Sonebhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, the state government has gone ahead with construction work of the controversial dam first envisaged in 1976.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on December 24 had stayed any further construction on the dam site after a petition was filed, stating that the environment clearance granted to the project was not valid anymore.
The NGT had given the respondents two weeks to submit their reply and listed the case for February 13. Till then, the UP’s irrigation department was asked to stop construction work at the site.
The petitioners had claimed that the environment ministry in 2008 had issued a circular stating that projects where no construction had started but have environmental approval will have to seek approval against under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of 2006.
The project was granted environmental approval in 1980 and the environment ministry had no record of when the dam project that will subsume land in neighbouring Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh apart from UP received approval for diverting forest.
The work for Kanhar irrigation project on downstream of river Pagan, originally approved by the Central Water Commission in 1976, had started a few months ago. The UP government wants to build a dam with initial height of 39.9 metre which will eventually be raised to 59 metre. The dam will store about 600 cusec water, the project report states.
As per the ministry circular, the UP government needed fresh approvals for the dam project which apparently had not been taken. The UPA government’s logic had been that the project did not require approval again as it was cleared before the EIA regime was implemented in 1994.
The UP government started the construction at the site on December 5, about 20 days before the NGT had to hear the case.