National Green Tribunal grants interim stay on Palamuru project works; government claims it is only a suggestion
By Express News Service | Published: 16th March 2017 05:27 AM |
HYDERABAD: The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone, Chennai on Wednesday stayed all further construction activities relating to Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) in the reserve forest area, until further orders.
A two-member bench of Justice M S Nambiar and P S Rao granted an ‘interim stay’, while dealing with an application filed by B Harshavardhan challenging the action of the government in going ahead with first phase of PRLIS project which passes through Amrabad-Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve area without forest clearances.
But, the government claimed that the tribunal had not stayed the works. Irrigation department officials said the interim order of the NGT was just a suggestion. “No works are being undertaken in the dense forest area as alleged by the petitioner,” they added.
Earlier in the day, during the course of hearing, additional advocate general of Telangana J Ramachandra Rao submitted that they were not constructing anything in the reserved forest area, and had sought an adjournment of the case.
Disputing with this submission, petitioner’s counsel Sanjay Upadhyay, while placing geo stat coordinated photographs from the site before the bench, contended that it is an irrigation project and the entire project was designed by the irrigation department. It was floated without any clearances in the name of drinking water project, he alleged.
In fact, clearances under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Office Memorandum dated Dec 9, 2099 of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change are mandatory for the projects which are passing through the reserve forest areas. At present, the area is being destroyed owing to the blatant illegal constructions around the buffer zone of the Tiger reserve, he pointed out.
After hearing both the sides, the bench told the AAG that the project could be completed only after obtaining environmental and forest clearances. “At present, it is clearly not a drinking water project,” the bench observed.
The bench, while admitting the miscellaneous application of the petitioner seeking to appoint an independent local commission, issued notices to the authorities concerned to respond to it. While adjourning the case by two weeks, the bench directed the state authorities to file an affidavit explaining that the PRLIS is a drinking water project and not an irrigation one.