NGT orders construction halt on Naidu's dream capital, CM says he'll go on
Andhra Pradesh's proposed capital Amaravati ran into a major hurdle on Saturday after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) extended the stay on construction activity, and directed the state not to bulldoze agricultural fields or clear the land in the area.
The NGT was hearing a public interest litigation filed by social activist Pandalaneni Srimannarayana, who claimed that any major construction would adversely impact the environment as Amaravati was a flood-prone area.
According a Times of India report, Srimannarayana also alleged that officials of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) were trying to bulldoze crops spread over thousands of acres. He also argued that Amaravati had fertile soil and the land was suitable for agriculture and not for constructing high-rise buildings.
The CRDA counsel A K Ganguly said that the requisite environmental clearances are yet to be taken, while adding that the government had not yet completed the flood prone area's survey.
At this, the NGT said there is no other option except to prohibit construction activities at the moment and emphasized that "Stay orders prohibiting all kinds of construction in the capital city zone will continue. Do not take up even land leveling work and do not remove any crop from this zone," the TOI report adds.
However, the state government has claimed that this will not affect the foundation laying ceremony on October 22, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chief guest.
Addressing reporters after a State Cabinet meeting at Vijayawada on Saturday, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said, “The tribunal has issued notice to us seeking our reply. We will respond appropriately. We will get all environmental clearances for the new capital.”
In May this year, the Tribunal had issued notices to the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Andhra Pradesh and the CRDA for starting work on the capital city, which will lie on the banks of River Krishna, without conducting an appropriate environmental impact assessment.
“As a government, we will not violate any rule...capital construction will commence only after obtaining due environmental clearances. We are confident that the clearances will come soon, even before October 22," The Hindu quoted official sources as saying.
Spread across 33,000 acres of land, the proposed capital of the state has also received sharp criticism from various groups, for depriving hundreds of farmers of their land and livelihood.
The NGT posted the next hearing for November 5.