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The Karnataka high court has issued an emergent notice to the state government with regard to the alleged encroachment of Gurupur river towards construction of a road-cum-pipeline by Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited (MSEZ).

Residents of Kuloor, Panambur, Baikampady and Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development had approached the high court seeking orders directing MSEZ not to dump soil in Gurupur river. The petitioners also prayed that necessary steps should be taken to restore the river to its original condition prior to encroachment by MSEZ.

Accepting the petition, the high court on Monday directed respondents including MSEZ and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to submit statement of objections within two weeks. The court said the petitioners are at liberty to move an interim order before the vacation court, if MSEZ continues the river filling work.

Meanwhile on April 18, office of the regional director of environment served a notice to the managing director of MSEZ to restore the river by removing the soil dumped on its bed. Environment department assistant director Mahesh Kumar told TOI that the MSEZ has been asked to restore the river immediately as it would cause flooding in the region.

MSEZ had obtained necessary clearance for the proposal from the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) on April 3, 2008. However, Mahesh said, "there is difference regarding work site mentioned in the proposal sent to MoEF by the MSEZ and the present work site."

The environment department had served a notice on April 5 directing MSEZ to remove the soil dumped in the river within 15 days. Though MSEZ had sought time till May 25 to restore the river, the environment department was firm on its decision citing fear of floods. Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development joint co-ordinator Vidya Dinker said that action should be taken against MSEZL officials, who did not take initiatives to restore the river even though the deadline ended on Friday.

Meanwhile, AG Holla, senior counsel for MSEZ, assured the court that MSEZ on its part will not take any steps which will prove harmful in any way. MSEZ PRO Ramachandra Bhandarkar said: "we are bound to abide by the court order."