HYDERABAD : A division bench of the Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday stayed an order granted by the National Green Tribunal at Chennai by constituting an independent commission to ascertain whether the ongoing phase-1 work on Palamur-Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) was meant for drinking water or irrigation purpose.
The first phase of the project passes through the Amrabad-Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar tiger reserve area. The bench of ACJ Ramesh Ranganathan and justice T Rajani passed the stay order on an appeal filed by TS government challenging the decision of the tribunal to constitute an independent commission. While pointing out that there was a lack of quorum in the tribunal bench at the time of passing the impugned order, the state government contended that the tribunal cannot pass the order by constituting the commission in the absence of an expert member on the bench.
On May 30, the NGT passed the order by constituting the independent commission while dealing with an application filed by B Harshvardhan Reddy, an advocate, challenging the action of the state in going ahead with the first phase of the project works by clearing about 279 hectares of forest land without forest and environmental clearances. The counsel appearing for Reddy contended before the HC that the government’s plea was not maintainable as Sec 22 of the NGT Act provides for an appeal before the Supreme Court and the state government, without exhausting the available remedies, approached the HC.
While staying the tribunal’s order, the HC bench made it clear that this interim order would not preclude the NGT from passing a similar order when the expert member was present on the tribunal’s bench.