The projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the IISc at Chitradurga have been halted by the National Green Tribunal as they did not have the necessary clearances from the Karnataka Pollution Control Board.
The DRDO is setting up an aeronautical testing range. The BARC, meanwhile, planned to set up a technology deployment facility named Special Materials Facility.
The process involved is refining of rare materials in the form of gas to increase the concentration, according to BARC sources.
The southern bench of the tribunal passed an interim order while hearing a petition filed by environmental activists from Bangalore who alleged that the pastoral lands in the area were converted for the testing range. The petition submitted that over 10,000 acres of pastoral lands called 'Amrit Mahal Kaval' in Karnataka were being converted for industrial purposes violating norms and the land was transferred to various organisations such as the DRDO, Indian Institute of Science and Indian Space Research Organisation by the Karnataka government.
The petition further sought a direction to restore the lands to its original self without any encroachment and construction. The NGT had set up an expert committee to go into the actual status of the land in Chitradurga and the committee had submitted its report recently.
When the matter came up yesterday, the counsel for respondents said no clearance from the pollution board was necessary for the project and it was clarified by the Environment and Forests Ministry. It was contended that if the NGT passed an order halting the project, it will result in a huge loss of public money.
Observing that the DRDO had gone ahead with the construction even as its application to the KSPCB was pending, the bench said it was not in accordance with norms.
The tribunal ordered that the status quo be maintained till the KSPCB considered the application and processed it according to the requirements. The matter has now been posted to September 17.