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[Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project] Supreme Court Approves Recommendation Of Central Empowered Committee To Not Clear Forest Cover

Sohini Chowdhury
8 April 2022 1:36 PM GMT
[Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project] Supreme Court Approves Recommendation Of Central Empowered Committee To Not Clear Forest Cover
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The Supreme Court, on Thursday, approved the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee's ("CEC") made in its Report No. 6 of 2021 dated 23.04.2021, that instead of clearing canopy of virgin forest along a 10.5 km long corridor in the State of Goa, the 400KV electric lines in the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project can be laid along the alignment of the existing powerline, which does...

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, approved the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee's ("CEC") made in its Report No. 6 of 2021 dated 23.04.2021, that instead of clearing canopy of virgin forest along a 10.5 km long corridor in the State of Goa, the 400KV electric lines in the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project can be laid along the alignment of the existing powerline, which does not require felling of trees.

On a perusal of the said report of the CEC and upon hearing the Counsels for the parties, a Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and Aniruddha Bose decided to approve the recommendations and directed the concerned authorities to take steps to implement the same.

"After examining the report no. 6 and hearing the parties we approve the recommendation made by CEC in Report no. 6 and direct suitable steps to be taken in the recommendations made therein."

The CEC was appointed by the Supreme Court to examine proposals cleared by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife for three projects including the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project, proposed to cut through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park.

The CEC opined that the project proposed by the Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project Limited ("GTTPL") would be detrimental to the fragile ecosystem. In this backdrop it made recommendations that instead of clearing forest cover the 400 KV line should be drawn along the existing 220KV corridor in Goa.

"…instead of clearing canopy of virgin forest cover along 10.50 km long corridor with 46m … in Goa State, the proposed 400 KV line should be drawn along the existing 220 KV corridor line in Goa State after establishing 400 KV corridor connectivity between Mapusa and Sangod and 220 KV line between Sangod and Xeldem."

The CEC was of the view that this measure would ensure adequate supply of power to the Southern Goa region. Further, it was noted that the part of the project, which was proposed to be implemented in the State of Karnataka also needed to be suitably amended to utilise the existing corridor. The CEC had recommended that direction should be issued to the Ministry of Power, Government of India asking GGTPL to redraw and modify the alignment of the additional 400KV line corridor between the two States.

The Bench noted -

"Modification has been proposed by CEC, would be in the interest of protection of forest and wildlife, and the ecologically fragile biodiversity of the western ghats."

Senior Advocate, Mr. Chander Uday Singh, appearing for GGTPL did not object to compliance of the recommendations made by CEC in Report No. 6 of 2021. Advocate, Mr. Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of Goa Foundation vehemently urged that there can be no objection to the recommendation made by CEC. Accordingly, the Bench accepted the recommendation.

[Case Title: Goa Foundation v. Union of India]

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