HOME > SOCIETY > India’s drone project halted by Green Tribunal

India’s drone project halted by Green Tribunal

India’s National Green Tribunal has stopped construction activity at its first drone research and manufacturing facility in Karnataka for lack of forest clearance.

Justice Mr. M. Chockalingam (Judicial Member) and Prof. Dr. R. Nagendran (Expert Member) constituting the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone Bench), issued a direction on 14th February 2014 halting all construction in the ecologically sensitive Amrut Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems in Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga district, Karnataka.

The direction was issued in response to complaints raised by NGOs including Amritmahal Kaval Hitarakshana Horata Samithi and Environment Support Group. They alleged that various agencies that had been allocated lands for their projects in the Kaval had commenced construction without securing permission from the Karnataka Forest Department and Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for diversion of forest land to non-forest purpose based on ecological assessments.

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) which is proposing construction of a massive weaponised drone testing and manufacture project, had already commenced extensive construction operations. In particular referring to this, the Tribunal ordered:

“The counsel for the DRDO on instructions from the official, who is present, would submit that the construction activities are continuing. It is pertinent to point out that whether the construction activities now being carried out by DRDO lies in the reserve forest or not is the subject matter to be decided by the Tribunal. In view of the factual position and circumstances, it would be fit and proper to issue a direction to DRDO to stop further construction until further orders of the Tribunal and accordingly a direction is issued to DRDO to stop construction activities in the subject matter land until further orders.”

Besides DRDO other agencies allotted these grassland ecosystems that form habitat for critically endangered Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican, highly threatened Black Buck, and support livelihoods of thousands of pastoral communities include Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC – nuclear fuel enrichment), Indian Institute of Science (IISc – building a synchrotron), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO – space applications), Sagitaur (private company to build a solar pond), Karnataka Housing Board (KHB – construction of villas), etc.

Several of these agencies have begun project activities by building high security walls, undertaken massive project construction and also blocked access of local communities to the Kavals, the petitioners said.

The 10,000 acres of Amrithmahal Kavals found here form the last contiguous stretch of grasslands left in Karnataka state. At the time of independence, the State had over 450,000 acres of Kavals, and only 30,000 acres are now left. Such systematic and reckless diversion of ecological commons has caused agony to thousands of pastoral and farming families dependent on these Kavals for their livelihoods,  the NGOs said.

Challenging this diversion before the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone), the Petitioners have said that the entire exercise was illegal as no assessment of the ecological and social impacts was ever conducted, no proper assessment was carried out to assess the appropriateness of siting such dangerous and highly sensitive facilities all in one location, nor was there any compliance with environmental protection, pollution control and land use planning regulations. Besides, they said, the entire exercise was undertaken with extraordinary secrecy, including by keeping elected bodies and representatives out of the decision making process.

While the implications of these decisions were being argued before the Tribunal, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board accorded Consent for Establishment to the DRDO and Sagitaur projects during September 2013. However, the consent was conditional to the fact that “in case the area proposed for the purpose of the project is found to be forest area, necessary forest clearance shall have to be obtained,” the NGOs argued.

In October 2013, MoEF filed its statement before the Tribunal stating that Amrit Mahal Kavals constitute forest areas as per the Karnataka Forest Act, 1961, Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Godavarman case (WP Civil 202/1995). The Ministry specifically said that “the status of 9,473 acres of land as “forest” or “non-forest” is to be decided through joint inspection by the State Forest Department and Regional Office of the Ministry, as per guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in Lafarge Judgment and interpretation of the Karnataka Forest Act and Rules framed thereunder.” Rather than immediately halt any construction activities, DRDO, for instance, continued massive building work which they refused to stop despite local protests and filing of police complaints,  it was alleged.

As these activities are in breach of conditions imposed in the Consent for Establishment issued by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the regulatory agency has been moved to withdraw the consent and initiate appropriate action against the violators, the petitioners said.

Follow ULTRA.news
India draws closer to US under Modi, to restart ‘COPE INDIA’ The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government of India is ramping up defense cooperation with the United States, and will restart COPE INDIA, a mock combat exercise between the US and Indian Air Force.COPE INDIA was first conducted in 2004, and subsequently in...
Tejas continues to face delivery delays Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd or HAL continues to run well behind schedule in delivering India's first indigenous jet fighter, Tejas Mark I.The government-controlled company was supposed to have delivered four Tejas Mark I aircraft by March 2016, and a total of 12 by March 2017, ...
How India’s enemies are using fake news to wage information war In the old days, wars were fought using armies standing face to face, such as in the first world war. Then came the aeroplanes and the jets, which allowed wars to be fought in the air, and far inland from the front lines, as was seen in the second world war.A fake news websi...
India achieves only 14% of rooftop solar power target Even as India more or less sticks to the target on adding large solar farms under its ambitious Solar Mission project, the other leg of the plan -- rooftop solar -- remains woefully behind target.Under the solar mission, India is supposed to have put in 5,000 megawatt of sola...
Reliance Defence Engg launches patrol ships for Indian Navy Reliance Defence and Engineering, controlled by Reliance Infrastructure, said it 'launched' the first two of its five patrol vessels being built for the Indian Navy at its shipyard in Pipavav, Gujarat.The ships are being constructed under the "P-21" project.The Company i...
Pakistan Army protests cross-border attacks by India Pakistan's Director General of Military Operations protested Indian attacks on the Line of Control in Kashmir in a meeting with his Indian counterpart.According to a statement released by the Indian side, Pakistan complained that Indian Army had killed four Pakistani soldiers...
Surya introduces 32-watt full-size ceiling fan with BLDC technology Surya Roshni, one of India's oldest electrical brands, said it launched what could be India's most power efficient full-size ceiling fan -- the SS-32.The fan belongs to the new breed of brushless or BLDC fans that use an electronic circuit to convert alternating current into ...
Reliance Infra defence unit inks one more deal to help with Rafale work Reliance Defence, the defence-focused subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, said it entered into yet another agreement with an overseas company. This time, the company said it tied up with Daher Aerospace, France, a supplier of integrated systems for aeroplanes.Daher makes ...
Anil Ambani Group ties up with Thales for Rafale contracts Reliance Defence, the defence manufacturing arm of the Anil Ambani group, said it will form a joint venture in India with global defence manufacturer Thales to carry out some contracts related to the Rafale jet deal.The Indian company will hold 51% of the equity while the fo...
L&T wins largest ever private sector defence order, to supply K9 VAJRA-T guns Engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro entered into a contract with the Ministry of Defence, Government of India to supply of 100 units of 155mm, 52 calibre Tracked Self-Propelled Gun systems to the Indian Army.The contract valued at about ₹ 4500 crore, is the largest o...
TCS opens drone facility in the US Tata Consultancy Services said it has opened its first research lab for drones in the US at its Seven Hills Park Innovation Center located in Cincinnati, Ohio.The lab will address the rapidly expanding demand for unmanned aerial vehicles and business Solutions across industr...
India is the first country to reuse nuclear waste on large scale – Minister A rally to popularize nuclear power in Mumbai in 2014The Department of Atomic Energy today said that India is the first country in the world where the waste produced by nuclear power plants is being used for civilian applications.Jitendra Singh, the minister of state ove...
India to add 34.5 GW of hydroelectric capacity in 10 years A hydro-power plant in Himachal PradeshIndia will set a target of adding 34.5 GW of hydro-power generation capacity in the next ten years, according to power ministry sources."The target for the 13th plan has been set at 13.31 GW and that for the 14th plan will be 21.15 ...
Can’t allow NGOs to impede India’s growth: Center to NHRC Women from the Mahan region celebrate after cancellation of coal blocks.Greenpeace helped organize protests against open coal mining in the area.The home ministry has written back to the National Human Rights Commission that non-governmental organizations cannot be allowed t...
Jammu & Kashmir saw big jump in terrorist infiltration in 2016 The number of militants who have successfully crossed over into Kashmir via the Indo-Pak border is estimated to have risen almost four fold in 2016, according to data released by the home ministry today.Against 33 estimated successful infiltration in 2015,119 militants ar...
India stockpiles crude oil worth Rs 4,258 cr as strategic reserve Undated government photo of construction work at one of the tanksIndia has filled a little over one-third of its phase 1 'strategic oil reserve' at a cost of Rs 4,258 cr, about $640 mln.The country is in the process of building five underground reserve facilities for cru...
After missing twice, India comfortably meets power sector targets for 12th five-year plan After missing its targets by wide margins in the previous two five-year plans, India is all set to comfortably meet or exceed all its power sector targets for the 12th five-year plan that ends this month.Five-year plans, borrowed from the Soviet Union, are a legacy of Nehruvi...
India plans for eight-fold increase in nuclear power capacity to 45 GW File photo Koodankulam Nuclear PlantIndia is planning to increase its nuclear power generation capacity to 44,628 megawatt, about eight times the current capacity of 5,780 MW, the Prime Ministers' Office said today.At present, India has seven nuclear power plants. Howeve...
ABB sells 4.5 GW of wind power generators in India ABB, one of the world's biggest manufacturers of large electrical equipment, said it crossed the 4.5 GW milestone in terms of sales of wind power generators in India, and that the country is likely to add 4 GW of capacity this year.India has a target of having 60 Gigawatt of ...
India may miss national solar mission target for 2016-17 After having met its solar power installation target for last financial year with relative ease, India could end up missing its target for the year ending March 2017.India had around 6 GW of installed solar power generation capacity at the end of March 2016, and by this year,...
Ujala LED conversion scheme on target, street light program lags Government of India's Ujala LED light conversion program has got off to a good start, but the equivalent program for public lighting is lagging behind, going by data from the power ministry.The two programs were launched two years ago and are expected to be complete by 2019. ...
Pune, Western Maharashtra emerge as air pollution hotspots in India Air pollution, particularly levels of Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide, rose sharply in towns and cities in Western Maharashtra in 2016, according to data from the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme of India.Though 2016 saw a worsening of air quality across the coun...
Mumbai’s Viviana Mall installs India’s largest rooftop solar plant Viviana Mall in Mumbai has installed one of the largest single-site solar plants in India.The mall, located in Thane, has constructed a 900,000 volt-ampere rooftop solar power plant, which the company said was the biggest in India.900,000 volt-ampere refers to the peak ca...
L&T partners with Microsoft to set up “Green Campuses” L&T Technology Services, the information technology company of the L&T group, said it has partnered with Microsoft Corporation to offer a solution to lower energy bills and cost of maintenance.L&T Technology Service's Integrated Building Energy Management Syst...
Premier Explosives secures Rs 27 crore order from Bharat Dynamics Limited Premier Explosives, a Hyderabad based commercial explosives manufacturer, said it has won a Rs 27.7 crore order from Bharat Dynamics Limited for the supply of booster grains.The order will be delivered by end of June next year, said the company.Booster grains are used as ...