VIJAYAWADA: With the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) seeking more time to file an independent statement on the allegations against the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS), the southern zone bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) adjourned the hearing on Friday and posted the matter to September 8.
While the State government contended that no works were taken up in violation of the tribunal’s earlier order, the advocate representing the petitioner submitted that KRMB “confirmed” the violations.When the matter came up for considering the MoEF’s report, the Union ministry requested a week’s time to file its statement. It, however, informed the bench that the AP government had filed for grant of an environmental clearance (EC) and that it was under scrutiny.
The bench considered the report submitted by the KRMB committee, which noted that works “in excess” than required for preparation of the DPR were taken up by AP. Advocate Sravan Kumar representing applicant Gavinolla Srinivas argued that as the board has confirmed the violations, contempt action may be taken against the AP officials including the chief secretary who, he alleged, not only committed wilful disobedience but also criminal contempt by filing false affidavits.
AP officials on the other hand refuted the allegations that works were taken up and described them as “untenable”. They contended that the board’s report nowhere mentioned that the works taken up pertain to the components of the project.
In the affidavit filed by AP, chief secretary Aditya Nath Das clarified that soil dump removal and levelling of ground were a part of detailed project report (DPR) preparation. “...geological investigation is a part of DPR preparation. The DPR submitted without these investigation details has been returned by the central water commission vide remarks dated December 16, 2020,” the CS stated and reiterated that the works taken up at the site were only preparatory in nature.
After the submissions, the tribunal posted the matter to September 8 for further consideration of MoEF’s stand and passing order on contempt proceedings filed by Gavinolla Srinivas and Telangana State.
Centre seeks week’s time to file statement
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has sought a week’s time to file a statement on the allegations against RLIS. On Friday, while the State government contended that no works were taken up in violation of the tribunal’s earlier order, advocate representing the petitioner submitted that KRMB “confirmed” the violations