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Bangalore High Court stalls 8 mini hydro power projects in Karnataka in Western Ghats

As Panchabuta had reported in December last year, Andhra Lake Wind Power Project in Pune district has run into rough weather with the Bombay High Court restraining the promoter, Enercon (India) Pvt Ltd, of the 113.6 MW power project from cutting a single tree until further orders.

The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice SJ Kathawala issued the interim order earlier this month following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Khed-based social worker Dr Dattatraya Kale.

This is the second incident in which land being acquired for Wind power projects are facing problems. As Panchabuta had earlier reported, Kerala cabinet had decided to evict Suzlon from the land that was claimed to be illegally acquired by them and restore the land to tribals at Attapady in Palakkad district.

We had just over a week back talked about how difficult it was for even mini hydro projects to take place even in a state like Karnataka and had observed that a lot of projects are still to secure clearances from various departments.

We have earlier opined that mini hydel projects though very attractive to private equity players because of  mature technology and attractive costs, have often turned out otherwise unless the due diligence goes beyond the usual into specifics of project, location, R&R issues and permits.

We had also mentioned that developers that Panchabuta spoke to tell us that this typically takes anywhere from 18-30 months depending on how efficient the developers are in securing permits.

According to reports, The Bangalore High Court on Monday April 18, directed various hydel projects that have obtained permission from the state government to function in Western Ghats, not to go ahead with the execution of the projects until further orders.

The division bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice A S Bopanna, asked all other companies except Bangalore-based Maruti Power-gen (India) Pvt Ltd, not to go ahead with their hydel projects. Maruti Power-gen, which has completed 70 percent of works, can continue with its project, but it will be subject to the final orders the High Court will deliver later, the bench clarified.

With this, eight prestigious power projects including Murdeshwar Power Corporation, Swarna Energy Ltd, and Mysore Merchantile Ltd, who have obtained clearance for installing hydel projects, will have to wait the outcome of the case.

The court passed this order, while hearing a public interest petition filed by ‘Western Ghats Environment Forum’, which has questioned the decision taken to set up 137 mini hydel projects at various places in Western Ghats located within Uttara Kannada district.

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