In a setback to Telangana, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directed the state government to stop the construction works of the Palamuru-Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) across the Krishna river. The South Zonal Bench of the NGT in Chennai asked the Telangana government not to go ahead with the projects until all environmental clearances are obtained from the Centre. Taking note of the objections raised by the Andhra Pradesh government, the NGT noted that the Telangana government did not get the required permissions like forest and environmental clearances.
D. Madhuri Reddy, counsel for the Andhra Pradesh government in the NGT, said the bench felt that the replies provided by Telangana to Andhra Pradesh's objections over the project, were not satisfactory. In July, the NGT had ordered the constitution of the joint committee to inspect project works following the petition filed by some farmers in the Rayalaseema region, Prakasam, Guntur, and Krishna districts against the project.
The farmers alleged that the Telangana government was taking up the Palamuru-Rangareddy project without necessary clearances. They informed the bench that the neighbouring state was proceeding with the construction of the irrigation project despite earlier undertakings that the same would be limited to only supply of drinking water until the Environmental Clearance (EC) is obtained.
The joint committee was asked to examine if Telangana was executing the Palamuru- Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme (PRLIS) project in compliance with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification and other extant laws which mandate prior EC.
The Andhra Pradesh government had submitted to the NGT that there was no water allocation for PRLIS in Krishna Water Tribunal 1 and 2. It was also brought to the notice of the tribunal that the project also did not figure in Schedule 11 of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
Andhra Pradesh had filed two affidavits in support of its arguments. It alleged that the Telangana government dubiously and artificially divided the PRLIS into two phases - irrigation and drinking - to evade legal scrutiny.
It argued that that Telangana government issued a Government Order on June 10, 2015 to divert 90 TMC of water from Srisailam to new ayacut. It alleged that an irrigation project is being built in the name of drinking water scheme so that Telangana need not have to obtain environmental clearances.
The NGT's joint committee inspected project works in September and submitted a report to the NGT in October first week stating that Telangana took up irrigation works in Palamuru-Rangareddy project, instead of permitted drinking water component works.
The NGT said that it is a violation of EIA notification, 2016. The joint committee suggested imposition of an environmental compensation of Rs 3,70,87,500 on Telangana.