NGT restrains Andhra Pradesh from taking up Rayalaseemaa lift scheme without EC 

The bench, which reserved the order in a petition filed by a Telangana farmer against the RLIS, on September 3, pronounced its judgement on Thursday. 
As the tribunal made references of the DPR, the State government officials felt that an aspect which was beyond the environment panel’s jurisdiction was touched upon.
As the tribunal made references of the DPR, the State government officials felt that an aspect which was beyond the environment panel’s jurisdiction was touched upon.

HYDERABAD:  In a positive development for Telangana, the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone) on Wednesday directed the Andhra Pradesh government to seek an Environmental Clearance (EC) before going ahead with the construction of the Rayalaseema Lift Scheme. 

The Rayalaseema Lift Scheme intends to augment the capacity of the Pothireddypadu head regulator on the Krishna river at Srsailam. The NGT rejected the Andhra Pradesh government and Ministry of Environment and Forests' claims that Pothireddypadu is not a new project, and that it is only meant for providing drinking water and not for irrigation, thereby not requiring an EC. 

Earlier this year, the AP government had issued an order approving Rs 6,829 crore for various components of the Pothireddypadu project. The project envisages lifting water from 800 feet from the foreshore of the Srisailam reservoir as opposed to the original permission of lifting over 854 feet in order to provide water to the Rayalaseema region.

The Telangana government had staunchly opposed this on the grounds that the project would affect the water availability from Srisailam for the farmers in Telangana. The NGT order was passed in a petition filed on the issue by a farmer from Narayanpet district, Gavinolla Srinivas.

Telangana was also a party in the case and was represented by Additional Advocate General J Ramachandra Rao, while the appellant was represented by advocate Sravan Kumar. Both raised the point that in a similar case relating to the Purushothapatnam project, the NGT (Principal Bench) had made it mandatory that an EC must be obtained before commencing the project. 

The advocates also accused the AP government of taking up the project in the guise of a drinking water project, which does not require an EC and naming it as Rayalaseema Lift Scheme. Whereas, the project is actually aimed at providing water for irrigation as well to the Rayalaseema region.

The NGT agreed with their contention and said AP had framed the project in a manner to avoid seeking an EC. Noting the nature of Pothireddypadu, including that there is a component of irrigation, it decided that AP cannot go ahead without an EC.

Other observations

NGT also observed that Pothireddypadu is part of AP’s Rayalaseema Drought Mitigation Project, which aims to ensure water supply in Rayalaseema for drinking, irrigation needs

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