The Andhra Pradesh government can proceed with the initial work for the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Project but cannot commence physical work till the National Green Tribunal decides on an application against the implementation of the scheme, the southern bench of the NGT has ruled.
The Bench of Justice K. Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta on Monday modified an interim order passed in May that prevented the Andhra Pradesh government from proceeding with the project. The relief came after counsel for the State submitted that no work on ground has started for implementing the project and they are only in the stage of preparing the project report and calling for tenders.
The counsel said the State was unable to proceed with the preliminary work of preparing the project report and calling for tenders due to the stay orders issued in May. Only after the project report is finalised, will they be able to consider as to whether prior Environment Clearance is required or not, the counsel said. The State also gave an undertaking that it will not launch the work on the ground without further orders from the Tribunal.
On the issue raised by the applicant that the scheme has been designed in such a way that appears to draw less water from the Srisailam reservoir but was only intended to exploit the water sources of Andhra Pradesh and affect the interests of the people of Telangana, the counsel for Andhra Pradesh informed the Bench that the Srisailam Irrigation project was already completed in 1984.
“This scheme is intended only to regulate the smooth flow of water through the canals by making some alignment in the route without enhancing or deviating from the purpose of the earlier project or increasing extraction water than permitted,” the counsel said. The project was necessary to cater to water needs of Andhra Pradesh and also Tamil Nadu as a specific amount of water has to be supplied to Tamil Nadu as per the agreement between both States.
Based on the submissions and assurances given by the State, the Bench allowed Andhra Pradesh to prepare the project report and call for tenders. “The actual execution of the work on ground can be done only after getting further orders from this Tribunal,” the Bench said.