The Supreme Court Thursday sought the response of the Telangana government and others on an appeal filed against an NGT order which had accepted the recommendations of a committee relating to the Polavaram project.
A bench of Justices S A Nazeer and Krishna Murari issued notices to Telangana and Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy (original petitioner in NGT) challenging the order of the tribunal and tagged the appeal with a similar matter.
The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by Odisha government against the September 18, 2020 order of the NGT contending that it has erroneously accepted the report of a committee without affording the state an opportunity to be heard.
The Odisha government argued that it was not made a party in the plea, there was no representative of the state on the committee and no notice was issued to it in the matter.
The NGT on September 18, 2020 had accepted the report of four member Joint Committee comprising Central Pollution Control Board, Telangana State Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests and the District Collector, Khammam.
NGT said: We are of the view that the recommendations of the Committee need to be accepted except the suggestion of transferring the proceedings to the Supreme Court. The suit pending in the Supreme Court relates to inter-se rights of the States, which is not the scope of proceedings in these matters.
Moreover, the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to transfer proceedings to the Supreme Court. All other recommendations are accepted and action may be taken by the Project Authority and concerned States viz. Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana and the Central Water Commission.
The committee had recommended that as per the interstate agreement on April 2, 1980 and final Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal award Odisha and Chhattisgarh have to give their consent and exercise either one of options for construction of protective embankment or rehabilitation of affected people.
Though the Polavaram project is nearing completion and it is assessed that 6,316 persons in Odisha and 11,766 persons in Chhattisgarh will be affected but either rehabilitation or construction of protective embankments is only proposed and actual work is not yet undertaken by project authority since the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh are yet to give their consent for either one of the options.
State of Andhra Pradesh may pursue with the state of Odisha and Chhattisgarh and obtain their consent for either one of the options. Polavaram project Authority, GWDT and CWC may also look into the issue and assist the states in choosing the most beneficial & safest option among the two, the committee had recommended.
The NGTs direction came on a plea filed by Reddy was on submergence of certain areas in Telangana, Odisha and Chattisgarh on account of Polavaram Project for lift irrigation scheme in Telangana.
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