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Stop all works at Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme till environmental clearance: NGT

VIJAYAWADA: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directed the Andhra Pradesh government not to proceed with any work on the pretext of preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (RLIS) till it gets environmental clearance, which is pending with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), and submission of a report by the joint committee set up by the tribunal.

Pronouncing its verdict on the petition filed by Gavinolla Srinivas of Telangana alleging violation of rules by the Andhra Pradesh government pertaining to the RLIS, the NGT set up the committee to go into the issue of whether the works undertaken by the State for the purpose of DPR is strictly in compliance with the norms issued by the Central Water Commission and the Geological Survey of India.

Further, the committee will look into the unnecessary excess work done amounts to part of the project. If so found, it has been directed to assess the compensation for the excess work done, considering the damage caused to the environment.

The NGT opined that there was no necessity to initiate any action either for civil contempt under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 or to punish the Chief Secretary for violation of the injunction decree under Section 25 of the National Green Tribunal Act.

In the verdict delivered by NGT judicial member Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Dr Satyagopal Korlapati, the MoEF&CC and the joint committee have been directed to submit their reports within four months.

While considering the petition filed by the AP government for the issuance of environmental clearance, the MoEF&CC has been directed to consider the observation made by the NGT in its final judgment.

It has been further asked to take a call in cases where for preparation of the DPR any extensive study regarding the feasibility and its impact on soil has to be conducted in respect of projects where prior environmental clearance is required.

The joint committee comprising a senior officer from the MoEF&CC, Integrated Regional Office, Vijayawada, a senior officer from the Geological Survey of India and a senior officer from the Design and Planning of Irrigation and Multipurpose Projects, CWC, New Delhi, has been directed to inspect the project site and submit the report through the MoEF&CC.

If the MoEF&CC found that it is in violation of the EIA Notification, 2006 and also the norms for preparation of the DPR, then it has been directed to take appropriate steps against the AP government for committing alleged violations, in accordance with the law. However, AP has maintained that the works taken up at the RLIS site were not in violation of the NGT order.