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NGT seeks report on lift scheme, warns that AP Chief Secretary could be jailed for violations

It is learnt that the tribunal said it would hold the Chief Secretary responsible as the latter had assured in February that only investigation works were being taken up

Published: 25th June 2021 02:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th June 2021 07:54 AM   |  A+A-

Rayalaseema Lift Scheme

The petitioner alleged that the AP government has taken up the works of the proposed project in contempt of the NGT's order (File photo)

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: Directing the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and the South Regional Office of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to submit a report on the latest situation at the project site of the proposed Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS), the Southern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal is said to have cautioned the AP government that the authority concerned, be it Chief Secretary or any other official, could be held in contempt (sent to jail) if it was established that the tribunal’s order was violated. 

Andhra Pradesh advocate, however, denied the allegations made by the petitioner and Telangana government, and sought time to file a counter-affidavit. On Friday, the bench heard the contempt petition filed by original petitioner Gavinolla Srinivas, who is said to be associated with the Telangana Sarpanches Association, alleging that AP has taken up the works in contempt of the NGT’s order given in February. Petitioner’s counsel Sravan Kumar informed the bench, headed by Justice K Ramakrishnan, that the AP Water Resources Department had taken up the project. He alleged that the AP government did not cooperate with the KRMB, which wanted to send a team to inspect the RLIS works. 

‘CS will be held responsible for violations’

He also argued that while the NGT’s order ruled that prior clearances were necessary, the AP government had written letters to the Centre that it does not need any permission. Telangana’s Additional Advocate General J Ramachandra Rao argued that the NGT’s order was not being implemented and urged it to ensure that law is followed. Counsel representing AP Donti Madhuri Reddy informed the bench that works of the project have not been taken up and the State is in the process of getting the project appraised by authorities for statutory clearance. The counsel also argued that the Telangana government has also taken up several projects without requisite permits. 

She added that a counter affidavit will be filed if two weeks time is given. Following the submissions made by the above, the bench directed the KRMB and the regional office of MoEF to submit a report on the situation at the project site. The tribunal posted the matter to July 12 for further hearing. 
The tribunal is said have observed that it would hold the Chief Secretary responsible as he had assured in February that only investigation works were being taken up. 

“There is nothing to disbelieve the assertion made by the Chief  Secretary of the State stating that there is no intention to violate the directions issued by this tribunal, while disposing of the matter, and whatever is being done is only strictly in accordance with the guidelines provided for preparing the DPR for the project. We are now believing the assertions made by the Chief Secretary that they are only doing the  preliminary investigation for the purpose of preparing the DPR on the basis of the directions given by the CWC,” the tribunal said, while disposing of the matter on February 24. 

While Telangana alleged that works were in full swing, AP officials, on their part, denied the allegations and maintained that other works such as canal lining were being taken up. “Batching plants were set up for canal lining works. We have not taken up any work related to RLIS as being alleged,” a senior official told TNIE. The State government is likely to send a response to KRMB’s letter, rebutting the claims made by Telangana by explaining the same. 

The NGT’s direction to the KRMB comes two days after the board shot off a missive to the Water Resources Secretary of AP, following a complaint from Telangana’s Special Chief Secretary (Irrigation) alleging that works were under way. Though a team was constituted in March for site inspection, the AP officials did not facilitate it citing various reasons, it stated In its letter, the KRMB also directed the AP government not to go ahead with the proposed project until its detailed project report is appraised by it or CWC and gets Apex Council’s approval.



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