Siruvani issue: Centre withholds EIA study, says TN govt

The Centre has decided to "keep in abeyance" the recommendations of an expert committee of Environment Ministry allowing Kerala to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for its proposed dam on Siruvani river, the Tamil Nadu government said today.

The Centre has informed Tamil Nadu, which has been opposing Kerala's project, about its decision in a letter, the government said.

Quoting from the Centre's communication to Tamil Nadu, an official release said, "The matter has been examined in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and it has been decided to keep the recommendations by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), in abeyance, till the references filed in Honourable Supreme Court against the Order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal are settled or get a positive consent for the ensuing project from government of Tamil Nadu." 

The move comes after the state assembly adopted a unanimous resolution in September last, urging the Centre not to accept the recommendations of the committee allowing Kerala to conduct the EIA study for the Attappady Valley irrigation project.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who had been opposing the project since 2012 and had taken up the matter with the Centre since then, had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, referring to the state government resolution and seeking his intervention on the matter.

The release recalled that in its 92nd meeting in March 2016, the EAC had asked Kerala to receive Tamil Nadu's consent for issuing of Standard Terms of Reference (STR) for the EIA and that its proposal will be considered only after getting the state government's nod.

It also said that in its 96th meeting in August this year, the committee had recommended to the Union Environment Ministry to allow Kerala the STR for the EIA.

This was in "contrast" to the decisions of the March 2016 meetings as well as a 2013 Union Water Resources Ministry communication to Tamil Nadu that Kerala has been advised to get the consent of states concerned as well as the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal before proceeding with the project, it said.

Jayalalithaa had informed Modi in her letter in September that the expert committee had made its recommendations on the issue of granting STR to Kerala without getting Tamil Nadu's views, and that the state government had not been informed of the matter through any letters, it added.

Referring to the resolution, Jayalalithaa had said Centre should not accept the recommendations of the Committee for grant of STR for conducting the EIA and should not "permit the Governments of Kerala and Karnataka to take up any project in the Cauvery Basin till the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee come into force and judicial references are finally settled.
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