VIJAYAWADA: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) for not taking up rehabilitation of project-affected families (PAFs) before beginning the construction of the cofferdams, which led to inundation of a few areas.
Expressing dismay over the way rehabilitation was not done properly, the tribunal also ordered constitution of a four-member committee to assess the social impact due to the construction of cofferdams without following laid down procedures.
The NGT bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Thursday heard two petitions related to Polavaram — one related to submergence filed by P Sudhakar Reddy and one related to alleged illegal dumping of wastes in nearby agricultural lands filed by Pentapati Pulla Rao.
The bench took a serious note of the issue of rehabilitation and questioned as to why the authority did not follow the norms. In the report submitted to the tribunal, the State Water Resources department officials informed that even though the water level rose by 2.1 meters than normal because of the construction of cofferdams, mitigation measures were taken up by revenue and other departments concerned well in advance and that the affected people were shifted to temporary relief camps. Once the flood situation came back to normalcy, the affected people were brought back, the official informed the bench.
Contending that it was a ‘general practice’ in the flood-affected villages to go uplands and come back after receding of floods, the State noted that the apprehensions of the applicant were not true, and prayed that the application be disposed of in the ‘interest of justice’. The bench, however, sought details of the compensation extended to the affected people whose houses were inundated. To assess the damage, the bench ordered constitution of a four-member committee with members from Central Pollution Control Board, AP Pollution Control Board, district collector and additional principal chief conservator of forest.
The bench also sought to know the details of possible inundation in Telangana and Chhattisgarh because of the backwaters of the project. PPA member-secretary BP Pandey said the relevant information was shared with the neighbouring States. The NGT directed the PPA to submit the copies of the same before the green panel.
Regarding the application alleging dumping of wastes in nearby villages, filed by Pentapati Pulla Rao through his advocate Sravan Kumar, the bench directed the State government to file a report to the tribunal within two months. It noted that the nodal agency for execution of the order will be Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, which may ensure immediate remedial steps if any violations are noticed during their visit to the site.
Report on waste dumping
Regarding the application alleging dumping of wastes in nearby villages, the NGT bench directed the State government to file a report to the tribunal within two months.