NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that an expert panel would be filing by October end a "comprehensive" environment and ecological impact report of 24 hydroelectric power projects, to be set up on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in Uttarakhand.
"It is submitted by P S Narsimha, Additional Solicitor General, that an expert committee which was constituted by the Union of India has met on 16th June, 2015, 9th to 12th July, 2015, 17th & 18th August, 2015 and 9th & 10th September, 2015. "It is also put forth by him that the expert committee is discussing the matter on 12th and 13th October, 2015 and they will be in a position to prepare the final report and the same shall be filed by October, 31," a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said in its order.
The court, in its recent hearing, asked parties to file "objections to the report from all angles including the constitution of the expert committee as there has been a cavil from the very beginning that another expert committee could not have been constituted... the objections shall be filed by November 15."
The expert body is assessing 24 projects that also include firms like NTPC, NHPC, THDC, GMR Hydro Power General Pvt Ltd and Super Hydro Pvt Ltd. Earlier, the court had granted time to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for filing "comprehensive" environment and ecological impact report of 18, out of total 24 hydroelectric power projects, to be set up in Uttarakhand.
The MoEF, in its one of the reports, had said that six, out of 24 power projects, have substantially complied with legal requirements. The MoEF had then sought time for doing the environment and ecological impact report of 18 other projects.
Earlier, the court had granted further time to the MoEF and had asked the ministry to come out with a "concrete proposal" after scrutinising projects including the hydro power projects of PSUs -- National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC).
The apex court by its August 13, 2013 verdict had expressed concern over the climate tragedy in Uttarakhand that year and prohibited setting up of any new hydroelectric power project in the state till further orders.