The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to take action against the Andhra Pradesh government for alleged illegal construction activity which was being carried out for the Purushothapatnam Lift Irrigation Scheme.
A NGT bench headed by its Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the matter has been pending for two years now and hence, the Ministry has to take a decision on the matter within one month.
"The MoEF&CC must consider the matter and decide whether action under Section 5 -- which provides for powers of the Central government to close or prohibit an activity for violation of any directions -- is called for," the tribunal said in its order.
The bench was hearing a petition which sought an injunction against the construction activities undertaken by the state of Andhra Pradesh for Purushothapatnam Lift Irrigation Scheme without environmental clearance.
The project is located at Akhanda Godavari Left Bank near Purushothapatnam village in Seethanagaram, East Godavari district, which involves diversion of flow of river Godavari to Yeluru river. In the process, experts say, there will be damage to the environment, including destruction of fertile land.
"The project envisages irrigation of 10,000 hectares of agricultural land. Though the project is for irrigation and other allied activities, the same is being claimed to be only for drinking water, to avoid the legal requirement of environmental clearance," the order said.
The bench said that though the Ministry filed a reply on the matter, it did not mention whether the project needed environmental clearance. "We expected the MoEF&CC to have taken a specific stand in the matter," it said.
The second phase of the Rs 1,700 crore project was formally inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu just earlier this month at Jagampetta.