Karnataka High Court Dismisses Petition To Restrain Cauvery Calling Project
Commenting on the issue, the Karnataka High Court bench stated — “such activities require appreciation rather than putting spokes in carrying out the projects like Cauvery Calling”.
The Karnataka High Court dismissed a petition requesting it to restrain the collection of donations from the public by Isha Foundation and to direct the state government to look into the “Cauvery Calling” project.
The petition, filed by advocate A V Amarnathan, contended that plantation work under the Cauvery Calling project was being carried out on government land without obtaining permission from the state government.
It claimed that plantation on government land would be “detrimental to public interest” and that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the interest of the general public.
It also petitioned the court to restrain the collection of funds to carry out the project.
The Government of Karnataka clarified to the court that it was not involved in funding the Cauvery Calling project.
Isha Foundation, while denying the accusations of the petitioner, stated that the project was encouraging farmers to take up agro-forestry on their private land as opposed to government land.
It highlighted that Cauvery River had depleted by 40 per cent in the last 70 years and that through their initiatives over two lakh farmers were reached out to in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Among them, 19,000 had shown interest in the project.
The foundation further stated that those who were interested in commercialising the riverside ecosystem were the only ones against the project.
The petition was dismissed by a division bench of the High Court consisting of the acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum.
The court brought out the various advantages of afforestation and stated that such programmes are essential to fight climate change.
It further observed that the rate of deforestation was unabated even during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Commenting on the issue, the bench stated — “such activities require appreciation rather than putting spokes in carrying out the projects like Cauvery Calling”.
It added that the project is intentioned to bring back Cauvery to its former glory by reviving the local ecosystem, ultimately helping the farmers who depend on its water for livelihood.
The court also stated that the petitioner had failed to highlight a single law that prevented individuals from planting trees on government land and noted, “Planting trees on barren government land is not a crime, although the respondent is not planting a single tree on a government land."
Finally, expressing its appreciation for the steps taken by Isha Foundation, the bench called the petitioner a “chronic litigant”.
The court opined that although such petitions were fit for imposition of costs, it restrained itself from doing so because the petition had been converted into a suo motu petition in October 2020.
The petition had been so converted after the petitioner, advocate Amarnathan, had sent a notice to Discovery Channel asking it not to telecast a programme on Cauvery Calling.
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