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NGT blow to KCR govt on Kaleshwaram project

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to constitute a seven-member expert panel and suggest relief and rehabilitation measures to be adopted in Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project in Telangana.

The National Green Tribunal was hearing the plea of two petitioners who alleged that the construction of the project had begun without environmental and other statutory clearances. The NGT held that environmental clearance was granted to the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project in Telangana in violation of legal requirement, and directed the MoEF to constitute a panel to assess the extent of damage caused and take up restoration measures.

The petitioners had sought a ban on non-forest activities such as felling of trees and blasting and tunnelling activities in the forest areas. The NGT ruled that Kaleshwaram project got environmental clearance “ex post facto” in violation of law.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the stand of the project proponent that the project executed prior to the grant of environmental clearance (EC) is unrelated to irrigation is “patently untenable”.

“We are also unable to agree that the state did not proceed with the irrigation component in the project till the clearances were granted and only constructed components relating to supply of drinking water,” the tribunal said.

In October this year, the NGT had directed the Telangana government to respond to a letter by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao asking not to proceed with expansion of Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project without submitting a detailed project report to Godavari River Management Board.

The project was built at an estimated cost of Rs 80,500 crore to provide 169 TMC ft (thousand million cubic feet) water to irrigate 45 lakh acres of land and 40 TMC ft water for drinking purposes. The project was inaugurated on June 21, 2019 by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and the then Chief Minister of Maharastra Devender Fadnavis.

The petitioners contended that Telangana government had proposed a major expansion with Rs 21,000 crore without waiting for proper execution of the Main Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project and finalised Tenders for the expansion of various components of Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project in April-May 2020.

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NGT directs Telangana SPCB to submit report on muck at Polavaram

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In a setback to the Telangana government, the National Green Tribunal on Monday directed the Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) to submit a status report on a plea alleging that muck was being dumped illegally at the Polavaram dam in Andhra Pradesh.

The NGT heard a petition filed by one Pentapati Pulla Rao. In the plea, the petitioner alleged that illegal dumping of muck was taking place during the construction of the Indira Sagar Polavaram Multipurpose Project which was damaging the environment. Pulla Rao counsel Sravan Kumar argued that several environmental violations took place at the site. The petitioner contended that waste material was being dumped in agricultural lands near the Polavaram project which was declared as a national project under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Hearing the arguments, the NGT has directed the pollution control board to submit a report by January 11 next year. The NGT had earlier ordered a four-member committee to conduct an inspection near the Polavaram dam and submit a report. It had constituted a committee comprising representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board, additional principal chief conservator of forests, the State Pollution Control Board, and the district magistrate to give a report on the factual aspects.

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Jagan’s Seema project lands in National Green Tribunal

Like Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata epic battle, the young Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy was taking bold and adventurous decisions from the beginning and without any compromise. Just like Abhimanyu, Mr. Jagan Reddy is struggling for lack of exit plans to break the Padmavyuha. It happened with the PPAs, Polavaram, State Election Commissioner and now the latest instance of Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme. Senior most leaders and experts have already warned the CM not to take hasty decisions. They know how river water disputes become a constant irritant once they begin.

Now, Jagan Reddy’s Pothireddypadu lift scheme expansion to draw water from Srisailam for Seema needs has landed in litigation before the National Green Tribunal. Interestingly, the KCR government in Telangana and the Modi government at the Centre have petitioned the NGT against the AP project. It should be noted that while KCR was known for giving his all-out support to the AP CM, the BJP government at the Centre was seen as having secret understanding with Jagan Reddy for political reasons.

Already, Union Jal Shakti Minister has asked the Jagan regime to stop the Pothireddypadu expansion scheme. While this is the seriousness that the issue has acquired, YSRCP chief whip Gadikota Srikant Reddy says their government would put up a strong argument before Apex Council in favour of Rayalaseema lift scheme. Jagan regime is still not realising that it cannot go ahead with Seema project without taking approvals of Telangana and the Centre. As of now, Jagan rule is getting surrounded by all sorts of litigations just like how Abhimanyu was stuck in Padmavyuha.

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Secretariat demolition: NGT issues notices to ‘T’ and union govts over Revanth’s petition

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday issued notices to the Telangana government and the Union government over the demolition of Old Secretariat.

The notices were given on a petition filed by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) working president and Parliament member from Malkajgiri constituency A Revanth Reddy, who alleged that the demolition of Old Secretariat was carried out without necessary environmental clearances. He asked the KCR government as to how his administration allowed demolition of the state secretariat without taking requisite environmental clearances. In the petition to NGT, Revanth Reddy said the TRS government ignored the norms prescribed by the green tribunal.

On June 27, Revanth Reddy had moved the Telangana High Court opposing the demolition of Secretariat building. Revanth Reddy had appealed to the court to grant an interim stay on the demolitions since the existing buildings have structural stability and life span of over 50 years. He had contended that the state government’s decision was a waste of public exchequer.

Revanth Reddy along with Telangana Democratic Forum convenor and retired professor P L Vishweshwar Rao had moved the HC in 2019 by filing petitions questioning Telangana Cabinet’s decision to go for a new Secretariat building.

Hearing a petition filed by P L Visheshwar Rao, the High Court had put brakes on the demolition of the old Secretariat building on July 10. The High Court again directed the Telangana government to stop the demolition works till July 15. On July 15, the Telangana High Court had directed the central government to submit a reply on its stand on the environmental issues with regard to the demolition of the Secretariat complex.

On June 28, the Telangana High Court gave its nod to demolish the old Secretariat building complex. Following this, the Telangana government began the demolition activity. At least 60 per cent of the old Secretariat, spread over 25.5 acres with 10 blocks, was razed to the ground. In the meanwhile, P L Visheshwar Rao filed a petition seeking the High Court directions to halt the demolition works. The petitioner had earlier argued that the building was being demolished in violation of Covid-19 regulations. The petitioner also contended that the demolition has led to air pollution at a time the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are seeing an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. Such demolition has led to severe breathing problems for the residents in Saifabad area.

This is the second time Revanth Reddy has moved the NGT. Earlier, he moved the NGT alleging that IT Minister and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son K T Rama Rao had built a farmhouse in Janwada in Ranga Reddy district in violation of environmental norms. He had sought a probe into the alleged illegal farm house. However, KTR had moved the Telangana High Court seeking a stay on the NGT probe. On its part, the Telangana High Court stayed the NGT orders seeking a probe into illegal construction of the said farm house.

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Gas leaks: Deposit money with Andhra officials, NGT tells 2 firms

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed two companies in Andhra Pradesh to deposit with Visakhapatnam and Kurnool district authorities within two week the compensation amount to given to kin of those who died and those affected by the toxic gas leaks last month.

Benzimidazole gas leaked at Sainor Life Sciences Private Limited in Visakhapatnam district on June 30, which claimed two lives and left four others affected. Ammonia gas leak from Spy Agro Industry in Kurnool district on June 26 had claimed one life and affected three others.

These incident came in the wake of gas leak from LG Polymers factory in Visakhapatnam district on May 7, in which 12 persons had died and hundreds taken sick.

With regards to the first case, the Visakhapatnam District Magistrate told the court that the company had announced compensation of Rs 35 lakh to the bereaved families.

In an order on July 6, NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that no compensation had been paid to the injured.

“We fix an interim compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the four injured. An amount of Rs 20 lakh be deposited with the District Magistrate within two weeks,” the bench stated.

Two employees — shift incharge R. Narendra and chemist G. Gowri Shankar — had died. Three of the four others taken ill have since been discharged from hospital. One is undergoing treatment at Care Hospital.

The tribunal also directed for the constitution of a committee to assess final compensation to be given to the victims and for restoration of environment and suggestions for precautions in future.

“The Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh, may identify and take appropriate action against persons responsible for failure to oversee the execution of on-site and off-site emergency plans and holding of mock drills as per the statutory requirement.”

The tribunal was apprised that Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board has issued closure order to the said company. The Factories Department has also issued prohibitory orders .

In connection with the second case, the bench directed Spy Agro to deposit Rs 15 lakh as interim compensation to the heirs of the deceased and Rs 5 lakh each for the injured with the Kurnool District Magistrate within two weeks.

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LG Polymers has absolute liability for loss of life: NGT

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) said on Wednesday that LG Polymers has absolute liability for the loss of life in the recent gas leak incident at its Visakhapatnam plant, and directed the Rs 50 crore penalty imposed on it to be used as compensation to the victims and for environment restoration.

A styrene gas leak from the plant had killed 12 people and affected another 1,000 in the early hours of May 7, besides causing environmental damage.

The NGT took suo motu cognizance of the case a day later and imposed a fine of Rs 50 crore on the South Korean company.

In an order on Wednesday, an NGT bench headed by its Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted, “We find the company has strict and absolute liability for the environmental damage and consequential loss to life and public health in this case.”

The bench said that the amount will stand appropriated towards part liability and interim compensation to be spent for restoration of the environment and compensation for the victims.

The NGT said that safety of citizens and environment is of “prime concern” and any economic or industrial activity has to be consistent with the safety of human beings and the environment.

The final calculation of compensation will be assessed by a committee comprising representatives of the Ministry of Environment, the Central Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, the tribunal said.

“The Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC), may ensure the constitution of the committee within two weeks from today. The committee may give its report within two months thereafter. The MoEF & CC will be the nodal agency for the purpose,” the order stated.

The NGT said that the company cannot recommence its operation without requisite statutory clearances and directed that if any such statutory clearances are granted and the company proposes to recommence, it must first be brought to the notice of the tribunal.

It also directed that a restoration plan be prepared by a committee comprising two representatives each of the Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and three representatives of the Andhra Pradesh government.

The bench comprising Justices Sheo Kumar Singh and Nagin Nanda directed the Andhra Pradesh government to take appropriate action against the erring people who were responsible for permitting LG Polymer to operate without statutory clearances.

The NGT also directed the Environment Ministry to constitute an expert committee to suggest ways to revamp the monitoring mechanisms to prevent violation of environmental norms and prevent such recurrence. The NGT has asked the ministry to file an action taken report within three months.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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