December 20, 2010

High court reprieve for thousands of trees

Kanchan Chaudhari, Hindustan Times, 20 December 2010

The proposed 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 proposed project, coming up in proximity of Bhimashankar Wild Life Sanctuary in the Western Ghats, requires about 26,600 trees to be cut down.

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

Kale, 80, contended in his PIL that the environment ministry had, in December 2009, granted permission for the project ignoring an adverse report from local range forest officer.

According to the PIL, the range forest officer had stated in his report that granting permission to a wind power project in an area full of bio-diversity would disturb the environmental equilibrium of the region.

Counsel for the petitioner, Shakuntala Wadekar, urged the court to stay the setting up of the project as thousands of trees have already been cut.

Government pleader Vijay Patil contended that permission for the project was granted in December 2009 and Kale allowed more than a year to lapse before approaching the court. His contention, however, did not impress the judges.

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