On Tuesday The National Green Tribunal mentioned that the environment clearance (EC) for the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project has been granted “ex post facto (out of the aftermath) in violation of the legal requirement for prior EC.”
Accordingly, the bench, comprising of Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to constitute a seven-member expert committee, preferably out of EAC members with appropriate expertise to assess the extent of damage caused in going ahead with the project without EC (from 2008 to 2017) and identify the necessary restoration measures.
The bench was hearing an appeal which was filed by Md Hayath Uddin, a farmer affected by the construction of the project, challenging the order passed by MoEF&CC granting Environmental Clearance (EC) for Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation project in Karimnagar District of Telangana.
The bench on the submission made by the Project proponent that the scheme is for supplying water to the drought-prone areas of the Telangana and the project had two parts drinking water and irrigation said: “We are not able to accept the stand of the project proponent that primarily the project is for water supply and water management and that irrigation is subsidiary or incidental part of the scheme so as to hold that no EC was required prior to the execution of the project from 2008 to 2017”.
The bench stated that “We are unable to understand that the state did not start with the irrigation project in the project till the clearances were granted and only constructed components relating to supply”.
By noting that the environmental clearance was granted to the lift irrigation project “ex post facto” in violation of legal requirement, the bench said that “all activities are clearly part of the irrigation project which cannot be separated from other projects. It is difficult to understand that all such activities are only for drinking purpose”.
The bench has mentioned that the expert committee be constituted within one month and it may complete its exercise within six months thereafter.